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Tajikistan pardons over 100 Syria, Iraq returnees
February 09, 2018
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DUSHANBE: Tajikistan has granted amnesty to more than 100 of its nationals following their return home from Syria and Iraq, where they had joined radical groups, the interior minister said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimzoda said the returnees had been pardoned in line with a 2015 government pledge.

“Regarding the fate of 111 Tajik citizens who returned from Syria and Iraq voluntarily, all of them are free under Tajik law,” Rahimzoda said.

Most of the returnees in question had spent time in Syria, which became a magnet for militants from around the globe following its descent into civil war in 2011.

Rahimzoda also told reporters that 250 citizens of Tajikistan had died fighting for radical groups in Iraq and Syria, mostly the Daesh group.

Authorities have previously said that over 1,000 Tajik citizens, including women, had joined the radical militants.

Most had travelled to Syria and Iraq through Russia, where over a million Tajiks are believed to work as labour migrants.

The Daesh group’s most high-profile Tajik recruit Gulmurod Khalimov had served as the chief of the interior ministry’s special forces unit prior to his sensational defection in 2015.

Russia’s defence ministry said in September last year that Khalimov, who may have been Daesh’s “minister of war,” had been killed in an airstrike.

Rahimzoda said on Thursday that Tajikistan was still verifying that report.

Mountainous Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet republic, shares a 1,300-kilometre border with Afghanistan, long a hotbed of militancy and the world’s largest producer of opium and heroin.

Governments have warned that fighters returning to their home countries after the collapse of the Daesh group could raise the terror threat there.

Agence France-Presse
 

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