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Wives, Children Of Russian-Born Islamic State Fighters Return From Iraq, Syria

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov

Eight children and four women -- originating from Russia and Kazakhstan -- who had been left behind in areas liberated from Islamic State (IS) militants have been flown out of Iraq and Syria and have arrived in Russia, Russian news agencies report.

A plane carrying the women and children arrived in Grozny, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya, on September 1.

Interfax news agency later reported from Grozny airport that Russia's children's ombudswoman Anna Kuznetsova and senior Chechen officials had met the plane carrying the evacuees.

It was the largest group to be flown to Chechnya from Iraq, and the first to include adults. Last month, seven children were flown back on a similar flight.

Iraqi officials have said that many of the foreign IS fighters who mounted a final stand in Mosul came from Russia, particularly Chechnya, and other former Soviet countries.

Mosul was liberated by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in July.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed head of Chechnya, has vowed to bring back all the Chechen children in Iraq, saying that "the parents of almost all of them are dead."

Kadyrov said on Instagram that the latest flight included a woman from Chechnya with three children.

Kuznetsova has gathered a list of more than 350 children who were reportedly taken by their parents from Russia to Syria and Iraq.

RT state-controlled television reported in August that the Russian authorities were trying to return 48 such minors from Mosul.

Rights groups say Kadyrov rules Chechnya through fear and intimidation, using police and other armed forces under his control to impose order and crush dissent.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Interfax