France halts mass repatriations of jihadist wives from Syria
France has repatriated all of the French women and children who want to return home from Kurdish-run jihadist prison camps in Syria and will not be organising any more flights, a diplomatic source said on Friday.
Another 10 women and 25 children landed back in France on Tuesday on the latest state-organised flight, which followed international pressure on countries to take back their nationals who travelled to territory controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group from 2014-2019.
"Having repatriated all of the mothers who wanted to leave Syria, there will not be any more of these types of operations," a diplomatic source told AFP on Friday, asking not to be named.
A total of 169 children and 57 women have been brought back to France since IS lost all its territory in 2019, the source said, but some were refusing the offer of being flown back.
"Some very radicalised mothers have explicitly said they want to stay in Syria," the source said, referring to an estimated 80 women who did not want to return.
All of those who return to France are subject to legal proceedings, including terror charges, while their children are placed with family members or in state care.
The return of the families of Islamic State fighters who were captured or killed has been a thorny issue for Western countries, particularly in France, which has suffered a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015.
The French government long refused mass repatriations of children and wives, dealing with them on a case-by-case basis that rights groups criticised as deliberately slow.