Iraq Sentences 19 Russian Women for Joining IS

A court in Iraq has sentenced 19 Russian women to life in prison for joining the Islamic State terrorist group.

The Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, which deals with terrorism cases, also sentenced six women from Azerbaijan and four from Tajikistan to life in prison on Sunday on the same charge.

Most of the defendants told the court they had been brought to Iraq against their will from Turkey by IS fighters.

Earlier this month, the Russian Foreign Ministry said between 50 and 70 “Russian-speaking women” were being held in Iraq, along with more than 100 of their children.

IS took over nearly one third of Iraq in a blistering 2014 offensive, seizing control of the country’s second largest city, Mosul, among others.

Baghdad declared military victory over the jihadists in December, after expelling them from all urban centers.

Experts estimate that Iraq is holding 20,000 people in jail over suspected IS membership. There is no official figure.

Iraqi courts have sentenced to death a total of more than 300 people, including dozens of foreigners, for belonging to IS.