Three Islamic State children handed over by Syrian Kurds to Nigeria
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- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Kurdish authorities in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) in northeast Syria on Thursday handed over three siblings linked with the Islamic State group to Nigeria, the first such repatriation to the African country, an official said.
“Three children… were handed over to representatives of the Nigerian government,” said Fanar Kaeet, a Kurdish foreign affairs official.
The siblings are a girl and two boys — all between five and ten years old — who had lost both parents, Kaeet told AFP.
A representative of Nigeria’s government said his country is also looking into other cases.
“We have asked the foreign relations department at the Kurdish administration for a list of Nigerians and Africans” under their custody, Musa Habib Marika said.
“As for Nigerian (IS) fighters, the Nigerian government will look into this,” Marika said in response to a question as to whether his country had any plans to repatriate combatants.
The Kurds have spearheaded the US-backed fight against IS in Syria, and in March expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in the war-torn country’s far east.
Syria’s Kurds have detained thousands of local and foreign fighters suspected of fighting for IS, as well as thousands of related women and children, during the battle against IS in Syria.
Even as the Kurds fight remaining sleeper cells, thousands of alleged IS fighters and family members are being held in their custody.
These include hundreds of suspected foreign fighters in jails, and thousands of their alleged family members in overcrowded camps.
Western countries have been largely reluctant to repatriate their nationals.
But Germany, France and Belgium have brought a handful of orphans home, while the US last year repatriated a woman with her four children.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.
IS overran large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” there, but offensives in both countries have seen them lose that territory.
U.S. has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). But in December 2018 the U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly announced the pullout from Syria.
The Kurdish PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ considered the most effective fighting force against IS. The YPG, which make up the backbone of the SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.
In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013. On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan.