Dutch repatriate woman and children with ties to ISIS from Syria
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish-led civilian administration in northeast Syria on Saturday handed over to a Dutch delegation a woman with ties to ISIS and three children who will be returned to the Netherlands.
The Dutch delegation visited the foreign relations commission in Qamishlo and was received by Abdulkarim Omar, co-head of foreign relations for the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and other members of the foreign relations commission.
The woman, her two children, and an orphan will be returned to the Netherlands.
Dutch authorities had previously said it was too risky for diplomats to pick up children from a conflict zone and had not made the journey to Syria since 2019 when a joint Dutch-French delegation repatriated orphans, including two Dutch children.
At the time, the Minister for Justice and Security, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, said officials would look for options to cooperate with the Kurdish-led authority for the repatriation of Dutch women with ties to ISIS.
A court in the Hague ruled in March that the government was not obliged to repatriate a 32-year old woman from Syria’s al-Hol camp to the Netherlands, a ruling which could hamper the repatriation of other Dutch adults with ties to ISIS still stuck in northeast Syria.
There are dozens of Dutch suspected Islamic State fighters and their families being held by the Kurdish-led forces in Syria, with intelligence services estimating at least 110 adults who joined ISIS are in camps and prisons in the northeast. Omar had told the AFP news agency that Saturday’s handover would not include any ISIS fighters.
There is mounting international pressure for governments to bring home children lingering in the camps where they have lived since the fall of ISIS’s so-called caliphate in early 2019. Violence and even murder is rampant in the camps and international aid groups say the children lack the kind of support services needed to prevent them from become future security risks. Both the SDF and the civilian Autonomous Administration in northeast Syria have publicly called on foreign countries to repatriate their citizens.
Hisham Arafat contributed reporting from Qamishlo. Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly