Russia ‘repatriates’ 27 Daesh children from Iraq

A Kurdish fighter takes a selfie with children after recapturing the Fadiliya village from Daesh militants, in Nawaran North of Mosul, Iraq. (Reuters)
Updated 10 February 2019
0

Russia ‘repatriates’ 27 Daesh children from Iraq

  • Fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between militants and Iraqi troops
  • More than 300 people have been sentenced to death in Iraq for belonging to Daesh

BAGHDAD: A Russian official said Sunday that Moscow had repatriated a fresh batch of children whose mothers are being held in Iraq for belonging to Daesh.

“Twenty-seven Russian children have been repatriated from Baghdad,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official said.

Thirty other children were sent back to Moscow in late December.

The fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between the militants and Iraqi troops, the official said.

Daesh seized large swathes of Iraq in a lightning 2014 offensive, before the government dislodged the militants from urban centers and eventually declared victory in December 2017.

The Kremlin announced in early January that 115 Russian children aged below 10 — along with eight aged between 11 and 17 — were still in Iraq.

Iraqi law allows detainees to be held with their offspring until the age of three, but older children have to live with relatives.

In November, Kheda Saratova — an adviser to Chechnya’s authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov — estimated “around 2,000” widows and children of Russian Daesh fighters were still in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Around 100 women and children, mostly from Caucasus republics, have returned to Russia so far.

Nearly 4,500 Russian citizens had gone abroad to fight “on the side of terrorists,” Russia’s FSB domestic intelligence agency said last year.

More than 300 people, including around 100 foreign women, have been sentenced to death in Iraq for belonging to Daesh, while others have been sentenced to life in prison. Most of those convicted are Turks or originate from former republics of the Soviet Union.

Their home countries do not want them and holding trials in Syria is not an option: Now suspected foreign militants could end up facing tough justice over the border in Iraq. Both countries have suffered for years at the hands of Daesh and Iraqi courts have already meted out hefty sentences to hundreds of foreigners detained on its soil, often after lighting-quick trials.

The fate of foreign fighters in Syria has come into sharper focus since President Donald Trump’s announcement in December that the US will withdraw its troops from the war-torn country.

Governments have been grappling for weeks with the question of foreign fighters detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have warned that they may not be able to guard their jails once US troops leave.


UN urges resolving fate of 2,500 foreign children at Syria camp

Updated 18 April 2019
0

UN urges resolving fate of 2,500 foreign children at Syria camp

  • Panos Moumtzis, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said home nations must take responsibility for repatriating their citizens, prosecuting where necessary
  • Britain revoked the citizenship of Shamima Begum who left at 15 to join Daesh in Syria

GENEVA: Around 2,500 foreign children are stuck in a guarded section of a Syrian camp after fleeing Daesh's last stronghold, a senior United Nations official said on Thursday, urging governments not to abandon them.
The children's plight at the Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria is a dilemma for nations who saw citizens leave and fight for the extremist movement in Syria and Iraq only to find themselves in limbo after the fall of their self-proclaimed "caliphate."
Panos Moumtzis, UN humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis, said home nations must take responsibility for repatriating their citizens, prosecuting where necessary.
"Really nobody should be rendered stateless and every effort should be made to find a solution for these people," he told a Geneva news briefing.
The children are among 10,000 non-Syrian and non-Iraqi nationals kept in a "restricted" section of the sprawling, Kurdish-run camp where 75,000 people live in total.
Some 211 children were among at least 260 people who died of malnutrition or disease en route to the camp since December, the latest UN figures show.
Britain revoked the citizenship of a teenager who left at 15 to join Daesh in Syria, while Austria and Switzerland have said they will not help bring home adults who joined the terrorist group.
But Moumtzis said states had a legal responsibility, especially for children, many of whom were born in Daesh camps. "Children should be treated first and foremost as victims" and "irrespective of family affiliation," he said.
The situation is further complicated because most states lack the capacity to offer consular services or access their nationals in the area. "There has to be a concerted effort, this is not about blaming or 'naming and shaming', but it's really about being practical and finding a way forward that would find a solution," the UN official said.