Tajikistan repatriates Islamic State children from Iraq

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan has repatriated 84 minors from Iraq, where their Tajik mothers have been imprisoned under charges of belonging to the extremist group Islamic State (IS) or are awaiting trial, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.

A Fly Erbil flight carrying the 84 children and teenagers landed at Dushanbe airport late on April 30.

The kids were set to undergo medical checkups before being given to relatives.

The Tajik government thanked the Kuwaiti and Iraqi foreign ministries as well as the UNICEF office in Baghdad for helping with the repatriation.

Hundreds of Tajik citizens went to Iraq and Syria to join the IS group, according to the Tajik authorities, and Dushanbe has repeatedly said it doesn’t intend to leave any Tajik children behind in the two war-torn Middle Eastern countries, fearing that they might pose security threats in the long run.

Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that there were 43 Tajik women in Iraqi prisons, with 95 children between them.

The country’s ambassador to Iraq and Kuwait, Zubaidullo Zubaidzoda, told RFE/RL earlier this year that a number of Tajik children would remain for now in Iraqi prisons because their mothers did not grant their permission for them to be repatriated.

Authorities in Tajikistan have exercised a tight control of any religious activity in the Muslim country to prevent Islamic extremism.

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Times of Central Asia