DUSHANBE: Tajikistan has repatriated another 104 women and children from Syria, where hundreds of its citizens joined extremist groups, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.
The group included 31 women and 73 children, as well as “five citizens of Kazakhstan — a mother and her four children — at the demand of Kazakh authorities,” a ministry spokesman said.
The women and children had been housed in camps for relatives of jihadist fighters administered by Kurdish forces in northeast Syria, where rights groups have long decried grim living conditions and rampant criminality.
Thousands of foreign extremists joined IS as fighters, often bringing their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared by the group across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
The jihadists were dislodged in 2019 from their last scrap of territory in Syria by Kurdish-led forces backed by a US-led coalition, and Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to repatriate their citizens from displaced camps.
But nations have mostly received them only sporadically, fearing a domestic political backlash.
In July 2022, Syria’s semi-autonomous Kurdish administration handed Tajikistan 146 women and children related to IS jihadists, in the first such repatriation to the ex-Soviet state.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 41,000 foreign citizens — the majority under 12 years old — are being held in camps and prisons in northeast Syria over alleged IS links.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2023
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