French women from Syrian camp ‘retrieved’ by ISIS: Relatives

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At least three French women who were being held in a Syrian Kurdish-run camp for extremists’ families have fallen into the hands of ISIS, according to messages they sent to their lawyer, seen by AFP on Tuesday.

Several French women who had travelled to Syria to join ISIS and were captured when the extremists suffered military deafeat left a camp for the displaced in northeast Syria at the weekend, at the start of a Turkish offensive against their Kurdish captors.

The Kurdish administration in northern Syria claimed that Turkish bombardments near the camp in the northern town of Ain Issa led to 785 relatives of ISIS members fleeing.

Turkey claimed that Kurdish forces deliberately set them free.

While US President Donald Trump said on Monday that Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria might be releasing captive ISIS militants to lure US troops back to the area, adding that they could be easily recaptured.

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In a message sent to a relative, which was seen by AFP, one of the women said they had been “retrieved” by ISIS.

“We have just realized that it is the Islamic State (ISIS) that has retrieved us,” she wrote.

One of her relatives told the families’ lawyer Marie Dose in a message that the men who took charge of the women said: “We are your brothers from the Islamic State, (ISIS) we will take you to safety in the desert.”

They were also told: “You are part of the Islamic State, (ISIS) you’re staying here,” the relative added.

On Sunday, the women sent audio messages to their French families, heard by AFP, claiming that they were forced to leave the camp by their Kurdish jailers, that their tents had been set alight, and that they had found themselves wandering the desert with their young children before being offered help by an “armed Syrian.”

Dose, who has been calling for months for France to allow the women to return home, said she had informed the foreign ministry of the developments.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has refused to take back French extremists or their wives, insisting that they face local justice in Iraq or Syria.

Dose on Monday accused Macron of “handing them on a platter to ISIS.”

Kurdish sources say around 12,000 ISIS fighters - Syrians, Iraqis as well as foreigners from 54 countries - are being held in Kurdish-run prisons in northern Syria.

The sources say a further 12,000 foreigners - 4,000 women and 8,000 children - are being held in camps for the displaced.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to prevent ISIS fighters leaving northeast Syria.