Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

France returns ISIS orphans from Syria

British government has refused to repatriate children from the Middle Eastern country, citing security concerns

Syrian refugees, fled their homes due to the attacks of Assad's forces, try to hold on life under harsh living conditions at the Atmeh refugee camp in Idlib, Syria on January 11, 2015. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Syrian refugees, fled their homes due to the attacks of Assad's forces, try to hold on life under harsh living conditions at the Atmeh refugee camp in Idlib, Syria on January 11, 2015. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The French government has repatriated several orphaned children aged five or under from French ISIS camps in northeastern Syria.

The children are under individual medical and psychological supervision and were handed over to the judicial authorities, says the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in a statement.

The family members concerned, who were in contact with the ministry, have been informed.

The French government said it made the decision to return the children because they were “very young and especially vulnerable”, before thanking the Syrian Democratic Forces for helping return them.

“Regarding the adult French nationals who were fighters and jihadists who had followed ISIS to the Levant, France's position has not changed: they must be tried on the territory where they committed their crimes,” the announcement said. “It is a matter of both justice and security.”

The British government has refused to evacuate foreign fighter children from Syria, citing security concerns. Speaking on Shamima Begum’s child, who died on pneumonia in a Syrian refugee camp on March 10, British Foreign Secretary Jeremey Hunt told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show: “We have to think about the safety of the British officials that I would send into that war zone.”

Ms Begum fled London to join ISIS at the age of 15, where she married Yago Riedijk, a Dutch ISIS fighter and father of her child who is being held in a Kurdish detention centre in north-eastern Syria.

“Shamima knew when she made the decision to join Daesh that she was going to a country where there was no embassy, where there was no consular assistance,” Hunt added. “And I’m afraid those decisions, awful though it is, they do have consequences.”

On Friday, on the eighth anniversary of the Syrian Civil War, the US and Europe released a joint statement that condemned comments from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad saying that the conflict was over. Over 400,000 people have died in the war that began in 2011.

Updated: March 16, 2019 04:02 PM

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