Azerbaijan jails 7 who joined militants in Syria, Iraq

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A court in Azerbaijan's capital has convicted seven Azerbaijani citizens accused of joining the Islamic State group and other alleged extremists in Syria and Iraq.

The court in Baku on Wednesday sentenced the men to prison terms that ranged from 2 ½ to 14 years after they were found guilty of terrorism and involvement in illegal armed groups.

Investigators say the seven fought alongside IS and other radical Islamic groups during 2013-2015. They were arrested by Azerbaijani security agencies after returning home.

The government in Azerbaijan, a Shia Muslim ex-Soviet nation, has methodically cracked down on suspected radical Islamists. Closely allied with the West, the oil-rich country has helped protect Western energy and security interests and offset Russia's influence in the strategic Caspian region.