Iraqi court sentences 16 Turkish women to death over ISIS membership

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Abdul Sattar al-Biraqdar, spokesman for the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council, said that the Iraqi Central Criminal Court sentenced 16 female Turkish citizens to death after they confessed to marrying ISIS members or providing said members of the group with logistical aid or helping them carry out terrorist attacks.

Another Turkish woman accused of membership of the jihadist group was given a life sentence, the official said, adding they had all acknowledged the charges against them.

Some of the women, between the ages of 20 and 50, were accompanied by young children. Baghdad is in the midst of a huge push to bring hundreds of foreign women to trial after IS strongholds in the country crumbled past year. One woman told the judge that she had actively taken part in the fighting.

Human Rights Watch has argued that the sentences are "unfair", with some activists arguing that numerous women were tricked or coerced into joining the terrorist groups.

Thousands of foreign women joined ISIS after the group tore through northern Iraq in 2014 and seized almost a third of the country's territory.

Iraq has sentenced 16 Turkish women to death for involvement with ISIS.

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A German woman was sentenced to death last month for belonging to the group and a Russian fighter was also sentenced to death in Iraq a year ago for joining the ISIS militant group.

As many as 100 foreign fighters who travelled to Iraq to fight for Islamic State will stand trial in Iraq, Al-Chlaihawi said, adding that majority are likely to be also sentenced to death.

"This also applies to foreign women (of IS families) who committed such actions inside the Iraqi territories", Hadithi said.

"The Iraqi courts need to redirect their priorities", Belkis Wille, a senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement released last week.

The sentences were issued under Iraq's counterterrorism law, however, the defendants still have a chance to appeal to a higher court.

Baghdad declared military victory over IS in December, after having expelled the jihadists from all urban centers they had held in northern and western Iraq since 2014.

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