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Moscow evacuates Russian children from Syria camp

October 16, 2020 at 4:11 pm

Women, reportedly wives and members of Daesh, walk under the supervision of a female fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at Al-Hol camp in Syria on 17 February 2019 [BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images]

Moscow has evacuated 27 Russian children from Syria’s infamous Al-Hol camp where the displaced family members of former Daesh fighters are being held. Russian children’s rights commissioner Anna Kuznetsova announced that a Ministry of Defence aircraft flew overnight with the children and landed at Moscow’s Chkalovsky Airport earlier today.

The children are between the ages of two and thirteen, and will undergo medical examinations and spend time in quarantine before being sent to their relatives across Russia. “Seventeen children will go to Dagestan,” explained Kuznetsova, “four to Penza region, and two to each of the following regions: Tyumen, Volgograd and Chechnya.”

This is the third such evacuation of Russian nationals, particularly children and orphans, many of whom were born during the ongoing nine-year conflict.

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Russia launched its efforts to repatriate minors from Syria and Iraq back in 2017. Kuznetsova met Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in September last year which resulted in an agreement between the two allies in the conflict against the Syrian opposition.

According to Kuznetsova, there is a possibility of a fourth mission to evacuate the remaining Russian children in the Syrian camps. “We hope very much that this succeeds, because more than 70 children are still there with all of their documents ready. If we are in time with the next visit, documents for 27 more children will be issued.”

Russia’s rescue missions come at a time when European nations have been urged to repatriate and prosecute their nationals who fled to Syria during the war to join groups such as Daesh. Many of those nations have avoided doing so, citing the potential threats to national security, although some have come to accept the return of “Daesh wives” and children on humanitarian grounds.

While the Daesh fighters who survived and were captured are being held in prisons run by the Kurdish militias, their wives and children have been kept at camps in north-east Syria such as Al-Hol. The Kurdish administration, however, has recently announced the beginning of the trials of the militants as well as the release of up to 15,000 Syrians held in the camps.