Moscow has repatriated a fresh batch of children whose mothers have been jailed in Iraq for belonging to ISIS, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Sunday.
“Twenty-seven Russian children have been repatriated from Baghdad,” an official said.
Thirty other children were sent back to Moscow in late December.
The fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between the jihadists and Iraqi troops, the official said.
Anna Kuznetsova, Russia’s envoy for the rights of children, confirmed the report, according to Russia’s TASS state news agency.
She said the 27 children, aged from four to 13 and from 10 different regions in Russia, and were due to arrive home Sunday night.
ISIS seized large swaths of Iraq in a sudden 2014 offensive before the government dislodged the jihadist militants from urban centers and eventually declared victory in December 2017.
The Kremlin announced in early January that 115 Russian children aged below 10 – along with eight aged between 11 and 17 – were still in Iraq.
Iraqi law allows detainees to be held with their offspring until the age of three, but older children have to live with relatives.
In November, Kheda Saratova – an adviser to Chechnyan strongman Ramzan Kadyrov – said “around 2,000” widows and children of Russian ISIS fighters were still in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Around 100 women and children – mostly from Caucasus republics – have returned to Russia so far.
Nearly 4,500 Russian citizens traveled overseas to fight “on the side of terrorists,” Russia’s FSB domestic intelligence agency said last year.
More than 300 people, including around 100 foreign women, have been sentenced to death in Iraq for belonging to ISIS, while others have been given life terms.
Most of those convicted are from Turkey or former Soviet republics.
– with reporting by Agence France-Presse