Kosovo and North Macedonia repatriated 34 of their citizens from Syria including men suspected of fighting for ISIS, government officials said on Monday.
Since the March 2019 fall of the ISIS group’s last stronghold in Syria, local Kurds have been calling for the repatriation of thousands of foreign women and children of extremists they hold in overcrowded camps.
But most countries are reluctant to take back their citizens.
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North Macedonia estimates 156 citizens went to fight alongside the extremists, with more than 80 having returned.
Experts say around 400 people from Kosovo joined extremists in Iraq and Syria, police saying more than half have returned.
“These returns demonstrate Kosovo’s willingness to take responsibility for its citizens while setting an example for others,” the American embassy in Pristina said on Twitter.
Six men, one woman and four children arrived in Kosovo on Saturday “with the help of the US,” the police ministry’s Xhelal Svecla told reporters.
Neighboring North Macedonia’s government said in a statement that four men, five women and fourteen children had returned.
The four men have been detained and would be prosecuted for fighting with foreign units, the statement said.
The women and children would be placed in a 14-day quarantine for medical checks while the authorities investigate if they were involved in any crimes.
“If no proof for crimes is found, then on their own will they will be included in the process of rehabilitation, resocialization and reintegration,” the Macedonian government added.
In Kosovo, all seven adults in the group, including one woman, suspected of “having gone to the conflict zone” have been detained for 48 hours due to their investigation, said police official Samedin Mehmeti.
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