Iraqi authorities on Wednesday handed over 188 Turkish children of suspected Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) members to Turkey at Baghdad airport, where they boarded a plane and prepared to fly home, officials from Iraq’s judiciary and UNICEF said, according to Reuters.
Representatives of the Iraqi judiciary and the UN agency were present until the children got on the plane. UNICEF Regional Chief of Communications Juliette Touma told Reuters the aircraft had not yet taken off.
An Iraqi judiciary spokesman said the group included several that had “come of age” and been convicted and sentenced for illegally crossing the border. Children can be held responsible for crimes in Iraq from the age of nine.
“The central investigations court, which is responsible for the terrorism file and foreign suspects, has handed the Turkish side 188 children left behind by [ISIL] terrorists in Iraq,” said the spokesman, Judge Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar, in a statement.
An Iraqi foreign ministry official, a representative of the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad and representatives of international organizations including UNICEF were present, Birqdar added.