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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Iraq sentences hundreds of ISIS fighters to death

The toll includes more than 100 foreign nationals with ties to the militant group

French radical Islamist Djamila Boutoutaou attends her trial at the Central penal Court in Baghdad, on April 17, 2018. Boutoutaou, 29, was sentenced to life in prison for membership of ISIS, the latest in a series of court judgments against extremists. Ammar Karim / / AFP
French radical Islamist Djamila Boutoutaou attends her trial at the Central penal Court in Baghdad, on April 17, 2018. Boutoutaou, 29, was sentenced to life in prison for membership of ISIS, the latest in a series of court judgments against extremists. Ammar Karim / / AFP

Iraqi courts have sentenced to death at least 300 people after they were convicted of terrorism charges, including for providing support or belonging to ISIS.

Since January, suspects who have either lived with the insurgents or joined their operations have been tried by courts across the country, including the northern city of Mosul.

Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said on Wednesday that criminal courts falling under the Nineveh Federal Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Mosul, had so far ruled on a total of 815 cases since the area was recaptured from ISIS.

“The statistics coming from the criminal courts show that 815 people have gone on trial and that 212 were sentenced to death. A further 150 were sentenced to life in prison,” judiciary spokesman Judge Abdul Sattar Birqdar told reporters.

It remains unclear how many, if any, of the death sentences had been already carried out.

In Baghdad, over 103 foreign nationals have been condemned to death, including six Turks sentenced on Wednesday, and 185 to life in prison.

Most of the women sentenced were from Turkey and republics of the former Soviet Union.

Since its surge in 2014 in northern Iraq, thousands of foreign fighters have joined ISIS in committing war crimes.

The prosecutions have prompted human rights groups to accused Baghdad's central government and other regional forces of unfair convictions.

On Tuesday, the Justice Ministry announced the sentencing of a French woman to life in prison. Djamila Boutoutaou, a 29-year-old of Algerian descent, told a Baghdad court that she had left France to be with her husband, a rapper.

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The female suspect said she was forced by her husband to join the extremist group and live inside the caliphate that the group announced would straddle the Iraqi-Syrian border from July 2014 onwards.

The country's anti-terror law allows for the death penalty to be issued against anyone who is found guilty of belonging to the insurgent group.

On Monday, Iraq executed 13 people, including 11 convicted of "terrorism". They include individuals accused of car bombings, killing security forces and kidnappings.

In January, an Iraqi court condemned an unnamed German woman to death by hanging after finding her guilty of ISIS membership. She was convicted of providing logistical support to the group and participating in attacks against Iraqi soldiers.

Although Baghdad’s central government has announced the defeat of ISIS, Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi admitted that the country is still engaged in a fight against the insurgent's sleeper cells.

On Tuesday, Mr Al Abadi announced the launch of a new military operation in western Iraq.

“We have started an operation in Jazira area and Euphrates heights to prevent to emergence of any terrorist group,” Mr Al Abadi said on Tuesday during his weekly press conference.

Iran’s defense minister arrived in Baghdad on Wednesday for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening security cooperation between the two states.

Ties between Iraq and Iran improved after former dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 and an Iraqi government led by Shiite Muslims came to power.

General Amir Hatami told reporters that "enhancing defense and military cooperation between Iran and Iraq is one of the main aims of this visit."

The increase in relations has raised international concerns over what the US and other Arab states perceives to be a growing Iranian influence in conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq, where it is aligned with paramilitary Shiite fighters.

Washington accuses Iran of stoking violence in Iraq by funding, training and equipping militias.

Tehran denies this, blaming the presence of American troops for the eruption of violence in Iraq.

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