QAMISHLO, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish authorities in northern Syria on Sunday said they had handed over Chechen families, who were found in Raqqa city when it was retaken from the Islamic State (IS) last month, to Russia.
In a press conference held in the Syrian north-eastern Kurdish city of Qamishlo, 13 women and 29 children were released to a delegation representing the Russian and Chechen governments.
The delegation was led by Ziyad Sabsabi, a representative of the President of the Chechen Republic, and General Kim, the chairman of the reconciliation committee at Russia's Khmeimim airbase in Syria.
Officials representing the Kurdish authorities in northern Syria said the move was part of a framework to strengthen ties between the administration and the countries whose captives are being kept by the YPG, the Kurdish military of Syria’s Kurdish areas known as Rojava.
“We, as a self-ruling administration, are coordinating with European, Asian, and Arab states to eliminate the threat of terrorism,” Abdulkareem Omar, a Syrian Kurdish official told Kurdistan 24.
“For example, we repatriated Indonesian families a few months ago,” he said.
The conference was also attended by the YPG spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud, in addition to Abdulkareem Omar, the foreign relation officer for the Rojava administration.
“We are officially handing over IS families to the Russian state,” Mahmoud told reporters.
Among the IS families being handed over was a Chechen woman who told Kurdistan 24 she followed her husband to Syria after he joined the jihadist group and gave birth in Raqqa.
“Two years ago, my husband came to Syria, and I joined him a little later,” she said.
The families were transported to the Qamishlo airport to be extradited back to Russia.
According to Russian officials, the children will be released but the women will face charges and be judged.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Ekrem Salih from Qamishlo)