Four women alleged to have been supporters and recruits of Daesh, along with their nine children, have been allowed to return to Sweden, following their escape from the infamous Al-Hol displacement camp in Syria. They escaped from the camp two months ago and have been living in Turkey while awaiting the green light to go back to Sweden.
The women's repatriation has been delayed due to DNA tests which they were required to undergo to confirm their relationship with their children. Moreover, one of them tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the Swedish broadcaster SVT, the social and security services are set to meet the women and children upon their return in order to ascertain whether they remain radicalised and aligned with extremist Daesh ideology. The women will be interrogated but their children will be taken into state care and monitored.
"It is better that they are brought to justice here than that they are allowed to sit in a refugee camp in Syria with an uncertain future," commented a relative of one of the women.
Some of the women allegedly went to Syria to join Daesh, while the others went earlier in the revolution before the group's emergence. They have all been kept in Al-Hol camp in north-east Syria along with tens of thousands of other families. They escaped with the help of smugglers.
That camp and others like it have been run by Kurdish militias such as the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) since Daesh was defeated militarily two years ago. Many of those detained in the camps, along with the former fighters held in prisons, are foreigners who travelled to Syria to join the extremists. The Kurds have long been urging Western nations to repatriate their nationals and prosecute them in their home courts.
That process has been rejected by most countries, however, as they perceive the former fighters and their families to be potential threats to national security. Some have opted instead only to allow fighters' children and orphans to return.
Sweden's decision follows the visit of a foreign ministry delegation to the Kurdish militias' administration and camps last month, where the humanitarian situation was observed. Repatriation of Swedish nationals was part of the discussion.
Sweden is one of the key countries which have called for an international tribunal to be established, especially by the European Union, in order to enable former Daesh fighters to be prosecuted without returning them to their home countries.