France to repatriate children of Daesh members from Syria
France has decided to return to the European country the children of Daesh terrorists who have French nationality and are being held in detention by Syrian Kurdish forces.
“French authorities are now entering an active phase of evaluation on the possibility of repatriating minors,” a French official was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday.
Some 60 women, including 40 mothers, with about 150 minors have been reported to be in Syria by families in France. The large majority of the children are under the age of six.
After cross-checking information with Kurdish authorities and the International Red Cross, Paris has located a number of them in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria.
Preparations are being put into place to repatriate children on a case-by-case basis, including those born in Syria, the officials said. Their return would depend on mothers agreeing to be separated from their children.
“It is in the best interest of the children,” one unnamed French officials said, as quoted by Reuters. The first children could return by year’s end, although the complexity of the situation may push the timeline back.
France in December 2017 repatriated three children belonging to a French woman who was sentenced in June by an Iraqi court to life imprisonment for her allegiance to Daesh. She kept her youngest child with her in detention in Iraq.
France has been exploring how to return its nationals who fought alongside the Daesh terrorist group and their families seeking to return from combat zones in Iraq and Syria, as well as those who surrendered and are in detention.
Daesh launched offensives in Syria and Iraq roughly in 2014. It had been almost totally defeated in both countries, however.
Figures for the number of French nationals joining the Daesh militant group operating in Syria and Iraq have varied between 500 and 700 over the years since 2014.
Currently, authorities estimate there are about 100 left in Syria’s militant-held northeastern Idlib Province and dozens near the Iraqi border.
Aside from France, other European countries, including the United Kingdom and Russia, are also faced with the problems posed by militants and their wives and children returning from Iraq and Syria.
An estimated 40,000 extremists reportedly traveled from around the world to fight alongside Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
Many of them have been killed.