Kurdish Forces Hand over 4 Children Born to ISIS to Germany

Monday, 19 August, 2019 - 17:15
Asharq Al-Awsat

Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria handed over to Germany on Monday four children linked to the ISIS terrorist group.

Germany has repatriated some children of convicted ISIS terrorists in Iraq, but this was the first time it brought home children still held in Syria.

"The autonomous region handed over four children from ISIS families to a delegation from Germany," said Fanar Kaeet, a foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities.

They included a boy and two sisters who had lost both parents, and a fatherless girl infant who was repatriated for health reasons, Kurdish authorities said.

All are under 10 years old, they said.

A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry confirmed the handover to staff from its consulate in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan at the Simalka border crossing.

"I can confirm that four children who were in custody in northern Syria were able to leave Syria," she said.

"The children were received on the Iraqi-Syrian border by staff of the consulate in Erbil and will be given to family members," the spokeswoman said.

"From there, the children and their family members will, we believe, travel to Germany."

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Berlin it was "very gratifying" that the four children were no longer in Syria.

"We will continue to work so further children can leave Syria. They are mainly small children and their accommodation there is anything but ideal," he said.

"In the end, they can't be held responsible for the actions of their parents," he added.

"In each individual case there will be difficult questions to answer, such as the identification, but also organizing their departure," Maas said.

Syria's Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against ISIS in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country's far east.

Even as they fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged ISIS fighters and family members are being held in their custody.

These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in their jails, and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.

Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.

But France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the United States last year repatriated a woman with her four children.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.

A dozen children of alleged extremist fighters have been repatriated from Iraq to Germany since March.

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