Syria’s Rojava hand over 35 ISIS-linked orphans to Russia

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Syria’s Rojava Thursday handed over 35 Russian orphans linked to ISIS to their home country in the latest such repatriation of parentless children, an AFP correspondent said.

The boys and girls were handed over to a Russian delegation in the town of Qamishli, he said.

Abdelkarim Omar, a senior foreign affairs official with the Kurdish authorities, said the Russian children were approved for transfer after their identities were verified via DNA testing.

A Kurdish official said they were aged from four to 16 years old.
ISIS fighters overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, running a brutal proto-state before their territorial defeat in March last year.

After years of fighting ISIS, Syria’s Kurds hold thousands of foreigners linked to ISIS in their custody.

These include thousands of foreign women and children, the majority in the overcrowded camp of al-Hol.

Anna Kuznetsova, children’s rights commissioner for the Russian president, said handovers of Russian children were completed from Iraq.

“We are glad to be continuing this work on the issue of repatriating children that are today in camps,” she said.

In March last year, the Kurds handed over three Russian orphans aged five to seven from the Country’s Muslim-majority North Caucasus region.

A month earlier, 27 children aged four to 13 were flown from Iraq to the Moscow region. That followed the repatriation from Iraq of 30 children in late December 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in late 2017 called the drive to return the children “a very honorable and correct deed” and promised to help.

Syria’s Kurds have repeatedly called for the repatriation of foreign ISIS suspects and their relatives.

But the home countries of suspected ISIS members are reluctant to take them back, due to potential security risks and the likely public backlash.

Some Western governments – including France and Belgium – have however brought a handful of orphans home.

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