The Syrian Kurdish administration has handed over another 20 children languishing in camps for the Islamic State group to a Russian delegation for repatriation.
The children born to Russian parents linked to the extremist outfit were transferred to a Russian delegation on July 3, the de facto autonomous administration in northeast Syria said. The latest repatriations brings to 205 people sent home to Russia so far. “We will try to return all the children," Larisa Nikolaevna, the deputy head of Russian state children’s rights commission, was quoted as saying by Kurdish media. Kurdish authorities hold some 10,000 suspected Islamic State fighters in prisons, after spearheading a U.S.-backed campaign against the Islamic State that ended with the extremist group losing most of its territory in 2019. Tens of thousands of foreign women and children with ties to the extremist group are held in separate camps in northeast Syria under dire conditions. Kurdish authorities and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have called on the 60 countries from which the Islamic State fighters and their relatives came to repatriate foreign nationals. Some countries such as Germany and the Netherlands have repatriated some citizens who fought with the jihadists. But many countries have brought home only the wives and children living in the camps due to security concerns about bringing home radicalized former fighters. Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised several Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Balkan countries for repatriating some of their citizens.
In many cases, children tied to foreign fighters and their wives are said to have been "born into the Caliphate," having never lived in their homeland and been subject to extremist indoctrination.
Earlier this week, the ICRC said that, of the 60,000 people held at the sprawling Al Hol desert camp, 40,000 are children growing up squalid, unhealthy, and dangerous conditions. Many young boys have also been separated from their mothers during transfer or detention. The ICRC, which runs a field hospital and provides food and water at the Al Hol camp, sounded alarmed that the Kurdish authorities are holding "hundreds of children" in adult prisons with hardened jihadists.