ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The government of Russia on Tuesday announced that it had repatriated from Iraq 32 children of members who joined the Islamic State.
The children arrived to Moscow late on Monday, after having been held in Iraqi prisons with their mothers, who are either awaiting trial for their affiliation with the terrorist organization or serving a sentence, said the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.
The Russian health ministry, who is also responsible for the children once in country, affirmed that those below the age of ten had been transported to the hospital for medical tests. This marks the fourth phase of Russian Islamic State-affiliated children returning from Iraq and Syria, making it a total of 122 minors Moscow has repatriated.
Following the emergence of the extremist group in Iraq and Syria in 2014, thousands of foreign nationals joined the Islamic State. Accompanying them were women who came from different parts of the world.
Both the US and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have called on countries in the European Union to bring home thousands of their nationals who joined the Islamic State, which the Kurdish-led forces captured in Syria, as Iraq has done on a limited scale.
However, European states have been reluctant to bring back Islamic State fighters or women accused of membership in the extremist group and their children who are stuck in Syria.
Many EU countries fear that due to the lack of evidence, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home.
Countries such as Britain and France have withdrawn the citizenship of Islamist fighters; however Russian President Vladimir Putin last year said Moscow would continue to bring home children of Russian citizens who joined the extremist group in Iraq and Syria, noting that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov would take the lead role on that matter.
Editing by Nadia Riva