Tuesday, the French foreign ministry announced that 15 women and 32 children detained in terrorist prison camps in northeastern Syria were returned to France.
“The minors were turned over to the child welfare services and will be subject to medical and social monitoring,” according to a ministry statement.
Thousands of European extremists traveled to Syria over the past decade to join the Islamic State (IS), frequently bringing their families with them to live in the self-declared “caliphate” that IS established on captured territory in Iraq and Syria.
Since the “caliphate” collapsed in 2019, the return of captive or deceased militants’ family members has been a contentious topic for European nations.
The return announced on Tuesday, which was pledged in response to pressure from humanitarian organizations, is the third mass repatriation by France.
In October of the previous year, Paris returned 15 women and 40 children, and in July, 16 mothers and 35 children were returned.
The women and children repatriated on Tuesday were located in the Roj camp in northeastern Syria, under Kurdish authority, some 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Turkish and Iraqi borders.
The French government hailed “the local administration in northeastern Syria for its cooperation, which enabled this operation.”
Shortly before Tuesday’s operation, the UN Committee against Torture criticized France for failing to repatriate French people from detention camps in northeastern Syria.