An Iraqi court has sentenced three French citizens to death over membership in the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and involvement in acts of terror across the conflict-ridden Arab country and neighboring Syria.
An unnamed official said the trio, identified as Kevin Gonot, Leonard Lopez and Salim Machou, were convicted of joining Daesh, and carrying out criminal operations by a criminal court in the capital Baghdad on Sunday. They have 30 days to appeal.
Gonot, who fought for Deash before being arrested along with his mother, wife and half-brother in Syria by US-backed and Kurdish-led militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, has also been sentenced in absentia by a French court to nine years in prison, according to French research group the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism.
Machou was a member of the terrorist Tariq ibn Ziyad Brigade, which carried out attacks in Iraq and neighboring Syria and planned others in the European capitals of Paris and Brussels, according to US officials.
French investigators say Lopez travelled with his wife and two children to the strategic northern Iraqi city of Mosul, before entering Syria.
On June 3, 2018, An Iraqi court sentenced French citizen Melina Boughedir to life in prison for her suspected membership in the Daesh terror group.
Arrested in the summer of 2017 in Mosul, the former de facto capital of Daesh, Boughedir was initially sentenced to seven months in prison by a court in February last year for “illegal” entry into Iraq and was set to be deported to her home country.
However, another court ordered her re-trial under Iraq’s anti-terrorist law and the French woman was found guilty of being a member of Daesh.
Iraq has been trying hundreds of suspected Daesh members, many of whom were detained as the outfit’s strongholds crumbled throughout Iraq. This includes hundreds of foreigners.
Hundreds of European nationals traveled to the Middle East to join Daesh after the terror group captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria in mid-2014.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.
In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.