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Iraq Hands Life Sentences To Russian Women For Islamic State Ties

IRAQ --Members of the Russian diplomatic corps attend the trial of two Russian nationals at the Central penal Court in Baghdad, April 17, 2018

Iraq has sentenced two women from Russia to life in prison after convicting them of belonging to the extremist Islamic State group.

The two women sentenced by a Baghdad court on April 17 were identified by officials from Chechnya as natives of Daghestan, which neighbors Chechnya in Russia's North Caucasus region.

Russian state media reports citing Iraqi television said three women from Azerbaijan were sentenced to death at the same hearing, as was a woman from Kyrgyzstan. Details about those women could not be immediately confirmed.

AFP reported that five women from Azerbaijan were sentenced to death at the hearing. The discrepancy between that report and the Russian state media reports could not immediately be reconciled.

The two Russian women sentenced to life in prison held small children in their arms during the hearing.

Iraq in December declared victory against IS militants who at one point controlled a third of the country’s territory.

The country’s anti-terrorism laws allow courts to convict those believed to have assisted IS militants even if they have not been accused of violent actions.

Iraq is reportedly holding more than 1,000 foreign women suspected of IS links, most of them from Turkey and the former Soviet Union. Some of these women have been sentenced to death.

The Associated Press reported last month that Iraq is holding more than 19,000 people due to alleged IS ties.

Human Rights Watch, which estimated a similar figure late last year, has warned that Iraq's anti-terror laws are sweeping up suspects with minimal IS involvement. It said in December that 7,374 people had been found guilty of involvement in IS under Iraq's antiterrorism laws since 2014, of whom 92 have been executed.

Iraqi authorities have yet to announced the carrying out of death sentences against foreign women convicted of belonging to IS.

With reporting by AFP, TASS, RIA Novosti, The New York Times, Reuters, AP, and The Daily Telegraph