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Iraq court sentences four to death for joining IS

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) – An Iraqi court has sentenced four people to death by hanging for belonging to the Islamic State militant group and committing terrorist crimes in Iraq and Syria, a judiciary statement said on Sunday.

The four men, wanted by Iraqi authorities, were handed to Iraq by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the statement said.

A Baghdad criminal court convicted them for joining IS and “carrying out criminal operations that targeted innocent civilians with the aim of undermining peace and stability in Iraq and Syria”.

A judicial source said the four men were Iraqi.

In February, Iraq’s military said the SDF had handed 280 Iraqi and foreign detainees to Baghdad.

Thousands of foreigners have fought on behalf of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since at least 2014. Many foreign women came – or were brought – from overseas to join the militants.

Iraqi courts are relying on counter terrorism laws to prosecute thousands of suspects, including foreign fighters, for joining the ultra-hardline jihadist group.

Human rights groups have accused Iraqi and other regional forces of inconsistencies in the judicial process and flawed trials leading to unfair convictions.

Islamic State captured a third of Iraq in 2014 but was largely defeated both there and in neighbouring Syria where U.S.-backed forces proclaimed last month the capture of Islamic State’s last territory, eliminating its rule over a self-proclaimed “caliphate”.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Raya Jalabi and Mark Potter)

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