France repatriates 35 nationals from camps in NE Syria

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – France announced on Tuesday the repatriation of 10 women and 25 children of the families of ISIS members who were being held in camps in northeastern Syria, in the fourth repatriation of its citizens from Syria.

“The minors were handed over to the services in charge of child assistance and will be subject to medical and social monitoring,” the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “the adults have been handed over to the competent judicial authorities.”

Tens of thousands of women and children of ISIS families from about 60 countries are still in the two dangerous camps of Hawl and Roj within areas held by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) in northeast Syria.

The AANES, which does not have the resources or structures to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of ISIS family members they currently guard, continues calling for the countries to repatriate their nationals and establish international tribunals for the ISIS militants because they pose a significant risk to the civilians in the region.

On June 10, in light of the countries slow-term repatriation operations, the AANES announced that it would begin the trial of foreign ISIS fighters held in its prisons in line with international and local terrorism laws.

France has been condemned by international bodies for its slow return of its nationals from these camps.

Those French women had headed voluntarily to areas controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and they were arrested after announcing the defeat of the “caliphate” declared by the group, according to the statement of the Foreign Ministry.

On July 2022, in a first ever collective repatriation to France since the collapse of the ISIS in 2019, 35 minors and 16 mothers were repatriated to France, this was followed in October by a second batch of 15 women and 40 children.

On January 2023, France repatriated 47 of its nationals, including 15 women and 32 children, who were detained in the Roj camp, in far northeast Syria.

ISIS lost its final stronghold in Syria in March 2019. The SDF, with the support of the US-led Global Coalition, defeated ISIS after fierce battles in the town of Baghouz in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria, bringing an end to the so-called caliphate declared by the terrorist ISIS.

After Baghouz, thousands of ISIS militants were transferred to prisons, while their families were transferred to the camps in the AANES-held areas.

In its statement, the French Foreign Ministry thanked the AANES for its cooperation that made this process possible.

The AANES was first formed in 2014 in the Kurdish-majority regions of Afrin, Kobani and Jazira in northern Syria following the withdrawal of the government forces. Later, it was expanded to Manbij, Tabqa, Raqqa, Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor after the SDF defeated ISIS militarily there.

Reporting by Egid Meshmesh