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Iraq's claimed 'deported' children were not related to Isis, Finland says

The foreign ministry said no Finnish citizen children with ties to the terror group had been returned to Finland.

kaupunkinäkymä
File photo of Baghdad, Iraq. Image: Ghadi Boustani

Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs clarified details on Wednesday concerning a claim made earlier in the week by Iraq that it had deported underage Finnish citizens who may have relatives involved with the terrorist group Isis.

On Monday, Iraq announced it had deported hundreds of children, including ones with Finnish citizenship, claiming they could have family links to the terrorist group.

There was some initial speculation that the child deportees referred to were linked to Finnish nationals living at the al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria for family members of Isis combatants.

But according to information obtained by Yle from the foreign ministries of Finland and Iraq, the deportations of Finnish children which Iraq had referred to Monday appear to be related to a kidnapping case from 2016.

Two children returned to Finland

"The children were in the custody of Iraq officials," the ministry's current affairs communications director Vesa Häkkinen said on Wednesday. "The foreign ministry requested and received assistance from Iraqi officials in 2017 to return the children to Finland. The children have returned to Finland."

In a text message to Yle, the Iraqi foreign ministry's communications chief Ahmed al-Sahaf said that Iraq had handed over two children to the Finnish consulate a couple of years ago.

Häkkinen, meanwhile, said those children had no connections to the terror group.

"It has nothing to do with Isis or deportations. Something of this nature has not taken place for two years," he said, saying that no Finnish children with ties to Isis had been returned from Iraq to Finland.

Finnish authorities have still not received clarification on Monday's announcement from the Iraqi foreign ministry.

"They have not been in contact with us," Häkkinen said.

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