Twelve French orphans of jihadist families were handed Sunday to a French delegation by the Kurdish authorities in Syria, said Monday a local official.
The children, the eldest of whom was 10 years old, lived in camps in the north-east of the country, where tens of thousands of people fleeing the offensives against the last bastion of the Islamic State (IS) jihad group were collected.
Kurdish officials handed over “12 French orphans from ISIS families to a delegation of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said Abdelkarim Omar, a senior Foreign Minister of the Kurdish administration.
He said the operation took place Sunday in the locality of Ain Issa, near the border with Turkey, and added that two Dutch orphans had also been handed over to a government delegation from their country.
So far, France had repatriated a handful of orphans and a girl of three years. According to the Quai d’Orsay, about 450 French nationals affiliated to the IS are in prison or held in refugee camps.
After conquering the ultimate fief of jihadists in eastern Syria, after an offensive supported by an international coalition led by Washington, Kurdish and Arab combatants of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) proclaimed March 23 the defeat of the “caliphate” of the IS.
Kurdish authorities run camps in northeastern Syria where thousands of women and children of foreign jihadists live.
For several months, they have been demanding the repatriation of women and children of foreign jihadists, and are actively working on this issue.
Two American women and six children from ISIS-related families in Syria were repatriated last week to the United States.
Orphans had also been handed over to Norway, and about 150 women and children to Uzbekistan.