France said on Wednesday it had brought home seven children of French jihadists from northeastern Syria, continuing a very sensitive repatriation process that began after the overthrow of the self-proclaimed caliphate of the Islamic State (IS) group.
The children, aged 2 to 11 years and “particularly vulnerable”, were handed over to the judicial authorities and taken care of by social services, the foreign ministry said.
They were living in the Kurdish-run al-Roj and al-Hol camps, where thousands of relatives of ISIS fighters and supporters have been held since ISIS’s defeat in Syria in 2019, a Kurdish source in the region told TBEN.
France has so far repatriated 35 children, many of whom are orphans.
Rights groups have lobbied European governments to allow children to return from overcrowded camps to live with relatives.
Kurdish officials have also pressured countries to take back their citizens, warning that they do not have the resources to keep prisoners indefinitely.
According to the CAT terrorism analysis center, 13 French jihadists including Hayat Boumedienne, the partner of one of the three men who carried out deadly terrorist attacks in Paris in January 2015, escaped to Syria.
France insisted on the fact that it would bring back only children, the mothers having to remain in front of the local justice, as well as their husbands.
But many women refused to be separated from their children.
>> France brought to justice for refusing to repatriate the children of jihadists
(TBEN with TBEN)