Creating new perspectives since 2009

US repatriates 11 American nationals, one other from Syria camps

May 8, 2024 at 9:08 pm

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC on 9 April, 2024 [Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency]

The United States has repatriated 11 American nationals and one other from north-east Syria, in the single largest recovery of citizens from the Kurdish-run camps by the US government, to date.

In a statement by US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on Tuesday, he announced the “complex repatriation and resettlement” of 11 American citizens, five of whom were minors, as well as the “9-year-old non-U.S.-citizen sibling of one of the U.S. citizen minors”.

In what he referred to as “the largest single repatriation of U.S. citizens from northeast Syria to date”, the government did not reveal the identities of the 12 individuals but, according to the New York Times, two unnamed officials told it that 10 of them belonged to a family previously reported on by the paper back in September last year.

Based on those reports, the individuals consist of a woman named Brandy Salman and her nine American-born children, aged from approximately 6 to 25. Back in 2016, Salman’s husband – who was later killed in the fighting in Syria – had taken the family to Syria during a trip to Turkiye, with an interview of one of the sons by investigators later revealing that the father had tricked them into crossing the border and did not disclose it until afterward, while the mother kept the children within the country as she was afraid.

READ: A US military withdrawal from Syria could overturn the chessboard, but not for the better

According to reports, most of the family are set to live with Salman’s mother in New Hampshire, with officials saying that the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a plan to help them integrate into society.

One of the daughters named Halima, however, was arrested upon arrival at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport early on Tuesday, and a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York has reportedly ordered her to be detained under allegations that she had been trained in the use of firearms by militants in Syria.

As for the two others, they are reportedly the sons of an alleged former fighter in the Syrian conflict named Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, who was repatriated in 2020 and has since pleaded guilty to charges of supporting terrorism.

According to the Minneapolis-based newspaper, Star Tribune, those two half-siblings – one biological and one adopted – are set to be raised by Al-Madioum’s parents back in the US.