Terrorism

Kyrgyzstan repatriates 95 from Syria camps

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Kyrgyzstan said Wednesday that it had repatriated 95 wives and children of terrorists from detention camps in Syria, in the third such operation by the Central Asian country.

“Thirty-one women and 64 children who are Kyrgyz citizens were transferred from Syria to Kyrgyzstan,” said the foreign ministry in a statement, without detailing how many more of its nationals remain in internment camps in northeastern Syria.

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Thousands of Kyrgyzstan nationals joined extremist organizations in Syria, and the return of the families of ISIS fighters who were captured or killed is a thorny issue for many countries.

The ministry said it was “grateful” to the United States for “full assistance and logistical support” in the operation, as well as thanking UNICEF and the Red Cross.

Kyrgyzstan has already twice taken back its citizens from Syria or Iraq. In March 2021, 79 children were repatriated while in February this year another 59 women and children were returned.

Thousands of people from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia -- Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan -- joined various extremist organizations including ISIS, particularly between 2013 and 2015.

The former Soviet republics have been worried by the return of the Taliban to power in neighboring Afghanistan.

ISIS governance across Iraq and Syria in 2014 was declared defeated in 2019 following counter-offensives.

Thousands of terrorists and their family members continue to be held in detention centers and informal camps where US commanders have warned they could fuel an ISIS revival.

Despite repeated calls for their repatriation, foreign governments have allowed only a trickle to return home, fearing security threats and domestic political backlashes.

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