France repatriates 16 mothers, 35 children from Syrian camps

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France has repatriated over 16 mothers and 35 children from camps in Syria with family ties with suspected extremists since the ouster of the ISIS group in 2019, said the foreign ministry on Tuesday, July 5.

A statement from the foreign ministry stated that France has today undertaken the repatriation of 35 French children who were held in camps in northeast Syria. The operation also included the return of 16 mothers from the same camps.

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It further added that the minors were sent to child protection services and would go through medical checks, while the mothers would undergo judicial proceedings.

Rights groups have long demanded the French government bring back over 200 children in detention who were either taken by their parents to the ISIS territory or were born there during these years of fighting.

They are being detained in Kurdish-run camps in northeast Syria, where malnutrition and disease are rampant.

One of the biggest and most overcrowded is Al-Hol, where an average of two children die every week, as per a report by the Save the Children campaign group in September 2021.

France has claimed that its security issues are essential, having suffered several attacks from ISIS extremists, including the assaults of November 2015 on the Bataclan concert hall and other targets in Paris that left 130 people dead.

Several children are with their fathers or mothers who pose a threat, and France urged that French nationals go through local justice.

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Before the operation on Tuesday, France had earlier repatriated 126 children in 2016. The Syrian civil war caused a significant humanitarian crisis.

It initiated with peaceful protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in March 2011 and evolved into a multi-sided, prolonged conflict that sucked in world powers.

The UN human rights office stated last month that around 306,887 civilians had been killed in Syria in the conflict since 2011.

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