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Five Macedonians Jailed For Joining Islamic State

A Macedonian court has sentenced five militants to up to 4 1/2 years in prison for joining the Islamic State (IS) extremist group and recruiting fighters for the group.

The criminal court in Skopje on May 18 said it found the five men guilty of joining a "foreign army." The men pleaded guilty to the charges.

According to Macedonia's Criminal Code, joining conflicts abroad as well as recruiting citizens to fight in foreign conflicts is punishable by five years in jail.

All five were arrested after they returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq, the court said.

They were among 11 Macedonians arrested in a nationwide police operation in August and accused of having extremist links.

In March, the six others, including Rexhep Memishi, an imam at a Skopje mosque who was considered a militant leader, were given five- to seven-year jail terms.

They also were found guilty of joining IS in Iraq and Syria.

Macedonian authorities have estimated that between 72 and 130 such people who have returned from Syria are considered "potential terrorists."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP