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Iraq Hands Life Sentences To 19 Russian Women For Joining IS

The Central Criminal Court in Baghdad has sentenced 19 Russian women to life in prison after convicting them of joining the Islamic State terrorist group.

The court on April 29 also convicted six women from Azerbaijan and four from Tajikistan, sentencing them to life in prison as well.

The women were not identified in media reports.

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

Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said between 50 and 70 "Russian-speaking women" were currently in custody in Baghdad, together with more than 100 of their children.

Zakharova said the embassy had not been allowed access to the defendants and it would only be possible to establish their identities after their trials were completed.

In February, Iraq turned over 27 women and their children to the Russian authorities after determining the women had been deceived into joining IS.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and RBC