France seeks to save IS jihadis from death penalties in Iraq

An Iraqi court sentenced on Tuesday two more French members of the Islamic State group to death, bringing the total number of French former jihadis condemned to death this week to six.

The men were identified as Karam El-Harchaoui and Brahim Nejara. They are among a group of 12 French citizens who were detained by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in neighboring Syria and handed over to Iraq in January.

The Kurdish-led group spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria and has handed over to Iraq hundreds of suspected IS members in recent months.

France’s foreign minister said earlier Tuesday that his government is working to spare the group of condemned Frenchmen from execution after Iraq sentenced them to death — though France has made no effort to bring back captured French IS fighters.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also reiterated France’s position but said the IS militants should be tried where they committed their crimes.

“We are multiplying efforts to avoid the death penalty for these … French people,” he said on France-Inter radio. He didn’t elaborate, but said he spoke to Iraq’s president about the case.

France is outspoken against the death penalty globally. The sentencings in Iraq come amid a controversy about the legal treatment of thousands of foreign fighters who joined IS in Syria and Iraq.

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