Syrian Kurds Repatriate 146 Tajik Women And Children From Camps Holding Relatives Of IS Fighters
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Syria’s semiautonomous Kurdish administration has repatriated 146 Tajik women and children who were held in Syria because a relative fought in the ranks of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.
The group of 104 children and 42 women arrived in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, late on July 25.
The transfer process was coordinated by the Syrian Foreign Ministry, the International Red Cross, and the diplomatic representatives of Tajikistan in Kuwait.
Fanar al-Kaeet, a Kurdish foreign-affairs official, said it was the first repatriation to Tajikistan. He said the coronavirus pandemic was among the reasons for the delay in the repatriation operation.
The women “did not commit any crimes or terrorist acts in northeastern Syria,” he told a news conference.
Thousands of foreign extremists joined IS as fighters, and many of them brought their wives and children to live in the caliphate declared by the group across parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
The jihadists were dislodged in 2019 from the last bit of territory they held in Syria by Kurdish-led forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition.
Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to take back their citizens, but there have been only sporadic repatriations because countries fear a domestic political backlash.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 41,000 people are being held in crowded camps and prisons in northeastern Syria over their alleged links to IS.
More than 500 Tajik women are believed to be at the Al-Khol and Roj camps. Many of them followed their husbands to Syria without knowing where they were going or why.
The women have complained about the difficult living conditions in the camps and repeatedly asked the Tajik authorities to organize their return to their homeland.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.