Syrian Kurds hand IS relatives to Dutch authorities

Syria’s Kurds on Saturday handed four relatives of Islamic State group fighters, including three children, to Dutch diplomats for repatriation, a thorny issue for authorities in the Netherlands, reports BSS.

The group consisted of a Dutch woman and her two children as well as another 12-year-old girl, “a humanitarian case,” whose mother had agreed to her repatriation following a request from the Dutch government, top Syrian Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar said.

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The four were handed over to a delegation led by the Netherlands’ Syria envoy Emiel de Bont and senior foreign ministry official Dirk Jan Nieuwenhuis.

De Bont said the delegation had “a clear and well-defined mandate to receive in the care of a mission, a small number of Dutch nationals up to now residing in the Roj detention facility”, following a Dutch court ruling on the individuals’ cases.

“We are here then to serve the rule of law and to do what we can to assist the due legal process,” he added.

Tamara Buruma, the lawyer for the woman and her two children, told AFP in the Netherlands that the case involved a woman she named only as Ilham B and her two young boys.

Based on previous cases, Buruma said she expected the mother to be accused of membership in a terrorist group, with her sons handed over to child protection services.

In a letter to Dutch MPs Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus confirmed that the woman would be arrested on arrival in the Netherlands.

Since the fall of IS’s self-styled “caliphate” in March 2019, Syria’s Kurds and the United Nations have repeatedly urged foreign countries to repatriate their nationals held in northeast Syria.

At least 220 such children with Dutch nationality remain in Syria or Turkey, 75 percent of whom are under the age of four and were born in the region to parents with Dutch citizenship.

At a news conference in the regional capital Qamishli, Kurdish official Omar reiterated calls for other countries to “meet their responsibilities by repatriating their citizens and cooperating with us on this situation”, a major burden for authorities in the de facto autonomous region.

About 75 boys and girls are living with their mothers in Kurdish-run camps in Syria, while a few are also in the jihadist-run northwestern area of Idlib, according to Dutch authorities.

There are some 30 Dutch women and 15 men in Kurdish-run camps.

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