The trial of 900 Iraqi citizens caught fleeing Daesh territory in neighbouring Syria has begun in Baghdad, a court official told AFP yesterday.

The court received “interrogation files for 900 Iraqi Daesh members” from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to reveal information to the media.

The SDF, backed by the US, has driven Daesh from areas in Eastern Syria, some of which border Iraq.

Iraqi authorities will try the suspected extremists in batches, he said.

“They include very influential leaders, but Daesh had sought to keep them hidden,” a security source told AFP.

One of those who remains in SDF custody is a member of the group widely thought to have been instrumental in developing chemical weapons.

READ: 200 Daesh terrorists handed over to Iraqi authorities 

Iraq found 185 foreign children guilty of terrorism charges in 2018, all of whom received prison terms.

Iraqi militants sentenced to death have quadrupled from 65 in 2017 to at least 271 in 2018, an Amnesty report revealed last week.

The country is still considered one of the top five “executioner nations” in the world by Amnesty International.

Though many locals have been executed, Iraqi courts are yet to carry out the death sentence for a foreign member of Daesh.