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France repatriates 7 children of Daesh fighters

January 15, 2021 at 11:43 am

Women and children walk by at a camp where families of Daesh foreign fighters are held in Syria on 14 January 2020 [DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images]

France has repatriated seven children of Daesh fighters from north-east Syria. This is the latest effort by a European country to return its nationals following years of reluctance to do so.

The children are aged between 2 and 11. They were living in Al-Hol and Roj camps which are run by Kurdish militias such as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG).

According to the French Foreign Ministry, the children are vulnerable and have been put into the care of social services. This latest repatriation takes the number of such children returned to France to 35, many of whom are orphans.

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Many of those detained in the camps are foreigners who travelled to Syria to join Daesh a few years after the Syrian revolution broke out.

According to NGO Save the Children, over 9,000 foreign children remain in the region and many of them are nationals of European countries, including Britain. In Al-Hol camp alone, there are reported to be 43,000 children.

Despite calls by human rights organisations and the US for Britain and other European states to repatriate their citizens and put them on trial in their home countries, many have refused or been reluctant to do so. Governments cite the security risks that they would pose if they are returned.

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