Increase in women and children returning from ISIS camps in Syria

PARIS — France on Tuesday repatriated another group of women and children from former ISIS terrorist group-held territory in Syria.

The group consisted of 32 minors and 15 adult women, according to the French National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office. A woman between the ages of 19 and her 56 years old has been detained. Children were taken care of by protective services.

Kurdish authorities in the region said the returnees had previously been detained in sprawling, miserable and lawless camps in northeastern Syria housing tens of thousands of women and children.

About 50,000 Syrians and Iraqis are crammed into tents in the fenced Al-Hol camp. About 20,000 of them are children. The rest are mostly wives or widows of her ISIS terrorists.

The camp also has a heavily guarded annex and houses 2,000 women and about 8,000 children from 57 countries.

Before the latest repatriation, Kurdish officials met with a French delegation on Monday in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli.

France has continuously brought women and children home from camps in northeastern Syria since the territorial defeat of ISIS in 2019.

Many European countries have delayed the return of women and children from areas where ISIS has operated.

France has seen more citizens join ISIS in Syria than any other European country and is particularly vigilant about their return.

Authorities insisted on repatriating citizens and their children on a case-by-case basis, a lengthy and cumbersome process that has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups.French authorities have also fought ISIS. It argues that adults, men and women, should be prosecuted in the country in which they committed the crime.

French authorities are also vigilant against the children of ISIS terrorists.Last month, Minister of Justice Eric Dupont Moretti told parliamentarians that children from Syria were being targeted in territory once controlled by ISIS. He was described as the “lion cub” of the so-called Islamic caliphate, which he proclaimed. The minister’s comments seemed to suggest that some children may not be loyal to France.

“On the one hand, these children are not responsible for their parents’ criminal choices. On the other hand, absolute vigilance is required,” the minister said.

“What we fear is that as these children grow up, they may be recaptured by terrorist groups,” he said.

Before the latest group was brought back, the minister said 270 children had been repatriated, nearly three-quarters of them under the age of 10.

The extradition to France comes days after a federal judge in Canada ordered Ottawa to help return four Canadian men held in a Syrian camp. Spain announced this month that it would repatriate two women and 13 children from Syrian camps.

After the rise of ISIS in 2014 and the declaration of a so-called Islamic caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, thousands of men and women from all over the world came to join the terrorist groups. ISIS lost the last shred of land it once controlled in eastern Syria in March 2019, but its sleeper cells have since been blamed for deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq. .

Humanitarian agencies and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have called on the international community to repatriate their citizens from Al-Hol and other sites in Syria.

Jon Lester and Hogir Al Abd

Associated Press