Belgian PM defends repatriation of ISIS families from northeast Syria

“They are victims of fatal decisions by their parents.”
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Photo: John Thys/AFP)
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Photo: John Thys/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has defended the repatriation of ISIS mothers and their children from camps in northeast Syria after criticism from Belgian parties.

"It concerns children under 12 years old," he said in the parliament on Thursday, reported the Belgian news website, De Morgen. “They are victims of fatal decisions by their parents.”

A Belgian team recently visited northeast Syria. They questioned Belgian ISIS women in the al-Roj camp and took DNA tests from children to check if they have Belgian parents.

Read More: Belgium investigates possible repatriation of ISIS women from Syria

Belgian opposition MP Koen Metsu, member of the New Flemish Alliance and chair of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, criticized the call by the Open Flemish Liberals, the Democrats, and the Green party to repatriate ISIS families. 

“This is the expensive (1.7 million Euros) facilitation of their undeserved freedom,” he said in a tweet. “From the first batch (of repatriated women), 2 of the 6 are still in jail. And (what about) the victims?”

Koen Metsu visited the Kurdistan Region and northeast Syria two years ago and has played a key role in the Belgian parliament’s recognition of the 2014 genocide of Yezidis.

The Belgian PM said that the previous attempt to retrieve only the children (and not their mothers) from the camps was not approved by the Syrian Kurds, De Morgen reported.

According to the Prime Minister, the Belgian government’s Coordinating Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM/OCAD) was also very clear that it is better to bring back the children and monitor the mothers after their return.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the civilian Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in northeast Syria have repeatedly called on foreign countries to repatriate their citizens stuck in Syria.

However, they do not want to separate mothers from their children.

The SDF and Asayish hold thousands of ISIS families and fighters in camps and detention centers.