Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – French authorities on Tuesday repatriated 51 women and children from the former Islamic State group-controlled areas in Syria, according to a statement from the national counterterrorism prosecutor’s office.
It’s the single largest return of women and children to France from camps in northeastern Syria since the territorial defeat of IS in March 2019. France saw more of its citizens leave to join the group than any other country in Europe.
Tuesday’s group was made up of 16 women, ages 22 to 39, and 35 minors, seven of whom are coming to France unaccompanied by adults. All but two of the women in the group are French citizens. Twelve women returned with their children and four of the women had previously agreed to the return of their children, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
Eight women were taken into custody for questioning and the other eight were detained on arrest warrants. The children were placed in the care of the child protective services attached to the Versailles Judicial Court.
One of the 35 minors is in police custody on suspicion of participating in activities of a terrorist criminal enterprise, according to the prosecutor’s statement. The minor will shortly turn 18, the statement said.
The United Families Collective hailed the government’s repatriation effort and urged the French authorities to continue bringing home children and mothers trapped in “inhumane” and “degrading” living conditions at the detention camps.
The collective said there were still 150 French children and their mothers trapped in the Roj camp.
“France must repatriate (them) as soon as possible (…) and close this shameful chapter in our history without delay,” the group’s statement said.