Kurdish authorities repatriate woman, children to Britain

Sources said they had been held in a camp for jihadists’ relatives

FILE PHOTO: People walk around the al-Hol camp in Syria’s northeastern Al-Hasakah Governorate, on October 10, 2023. (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Pramod Thomas

KURDISH authorities in northeast Syria said they had handed over a woman and three children to British representatives for repatriation, with a source saying they had been held in a camp for jihadists’ relatives.

Five years after the Daesh (Islamic State group) was driven out of its last bastion in Syria, tens of thousands of the jihadists’ family members, including from western countries, remain in detention camps in the Kurdish-controlled northeast.

The Kurdish administration on Friday (24) said it had “handed over a woman and three children to the UK”, following a meeting with a British delegation led its Syria envoy Ann Snow.

A source within the administration said the four had been interned in the Roj camp where jihadists’ relatives are held.

Britain’s foreign ministry said UK officials had “facilitated the repatriation of a number of British nationals from Syria to the UK”.

“This repatriation is in line with the long-standing policy that all requests for UK consular assistance from Syria are considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant circumstances including national security,” the spokesperson said.

On May 7, the US announced it had brought back 11 Americans including five minors, as well as a nine-year-old non-US sibling of an American, from internment camps in northeastern Syria.

The US in the same operation facilitated the repatriation of six Canadian citizens, four Dutch citizens and one Finnish citizen, eight of them children, secretary of state Antony Blinken said.

And in December, the Kurdish administration handed over to Britain a woman and five children who had also been held in a camp.

Despite repeated appeals by the Kurdish authorities, a number of western countries have refused to take back their citizens from the camps.

Among the most high profile cases is that of Shamima Begum, a former Briton stripped of her citizenship after leaving the country aged 15 to marry a Daesh fighter.