France repatriates 40 children, 15 women from Syrian camps

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is handing over minors to child care services and transferring women to judicial authorities.

France announced on Thursday that it has carried out a new operation to repatriate French nationals – 40 children and 15 women – from Kurdish-run camps in northeastern Syria.

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This is the largest repatriation of this kind in three months, when 16 mothers and 35 minors were returned to France on July 5, in cooperation with the Kurds. Meanwhile, a woman and her two children were returned in early October.

The French Foreign Ministry said, in a statement, that the children had been handed over to childcare institutions, where they would receive medical and social follow-up, while the women would be handed over to the judicial authorities, AFP reported.

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“France expresses its thanks to the (Kurdish) local authorities for their cooperation that made this operation possible,” the statement added.

In September 2022, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that France should review the return requests of two French women who traveled to Syria with their partners to join the Islamic State (ISIS). Those requests also included the return of children the women had given birth there.

As per the media reports, French authorities are under pressure to speed up the return of women and children from the concentration camps, after they had been reluctant for years to return people they considered terrorists to French soil.

Western countries generally face a dilemma about how to deal with their citizens detained in Syria, since the end of military operations against the Islamic State there in 2019.

Thousands of extremists in Europe had decided to join ISIS as fighters, often taking their wives and children to live in its self-declared “caliphate” in the lands it occupied in Iraq and Syria.

The French nationals were among more than 40,000 foreigners, most of them Iraqis, in detention in Syria, according to Human Rights Watch.

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