France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps
Above, the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp which holds relatives of suspected Daesh group fighters in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh governorate. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 05 July 2022

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps

France repatriates 35 children, 16 mothers from Syria camps
  • The French government had long refused mass repatriations of the hundreds of French children detained in Kurdish-controlled camps, dealing with them on a case-by-case basis

PARIS: France repatriated 35 children and 16 mothers from camps in Syria holding family members of suspected Daesh terrorists on Tuesday in the largest such operation by Paris after pressure from campaigners.

The French government had long refused mass repatriations of the hundreds of French children detained in Kurdish-controlled camps, dealing with them on a case-by-case basis that rights groups criticized as deliberately slow.

“France has today undertaken the return to the country of 35 French minors who were in camps in northeast Syria. This operation also includes the return of 16 mothers from these same camps,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry said.

It added that the minors were handed over to child protection services while the mothers would face judicial proceedings that lawyers expect to lead to their prosecution for terror offenses.

One of the women was 37-year-old Emilie Konig, a Muslim convert from northwest France who became a notorious recruiter for the group and urged supporters in the West to carry out attacks, a security source told AFP.

Family members of the returnees said that French officials had entered the sprawling and squalid Roj camp on Monday to select orphans and women with medical problems for the flight home.

“It’s a 180-degree turn from the French government to repatriate women as well. It gives us hope, but there are still a lot of children over there,” the aunt of one of the repatriated women told AFP, asking not to be named.

Western countries have faced a dilemma over how to handle their citizens detained in Syria since the end of military operations against the Daesh group there in 2019.

Thousands of extremists in Europe decided to join the group as fighters, often bringing their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared in territory conquered in Iraq and Syria.

Until now, France had prioritized its security over welfare concerns for the detained, pointing to a series of attacks by Daesh militants, including the November 2015 assaults on Paris that left 130 people dead.

In a 2019 poll by Odoxa-Dentsu Consulting, seven out of 10 people surveyed were opposed to bringing back the children of jihadists to France.

Before Tuesday’s operation, Paris had repatriated 126 children since 2016.

The decision to return 51 people in a single operation points to a change in policy that came after Germany and Belgium announced that they would bring back all of their minors from Syria.

Around 150 remain in Syria, lawyers and campaigners said on Tuesday.

“Our country has isolated itself more and more by choosing inhumanity and irresponsibility, unlike Germany, Belgium and many other European countries,” the French campaign group Collective for United Families said in a statement on Tuesday.

A UN watchdog also increased  the pressure in February when it said that France had violated the rights of children by leaving them for years in inhuman and life-threatening conditions.

The president of the Seine-Saint-Denis region northeast of Paris, where many previous returnees have been housed, said it was important to make a distinction between Daesh fighters and children, many of whom are orphans.

“Whenever this issue becomes a news story, I’m aware of the fantasies that it can create,” Stephane Troussel told AFP recently. “The images of children indoctrinated by Daesh, weapons in their hands, are deeply ingrained.”

But “the children are not guilty. They are above all the victims of the deadly excesses of their parents and what they need more than anything is an opportunity to rebuild themselves if we want them to rejoin society,” he added.

A statement from France’s anti-terror prosecutor’s office said the mothers repatriated on Tuesday were aged between 22 and 39 and had been taken into custody.

In addition to Konig, there is also a mother-of-four with colon cancer whose mother, Pascale Descamps, went on hunger strike to campaign for her return on humanitarian grounds.

She left France in 2015 with her husband and three children. He was killed in combat, leading her to re-marry another Daesh extremist, who also died.

One of the minors, who is nearly 18, was also detained because “evidence exists likely to prove his association with a terrorist organization,” the statement from anti-terror prosecutors added.

Daesh declared a caliphate in 2014 in territory stretching across Iraq and Syria, but was progressively beaten back by a coalition of Western-backed local forces, losing its last territory in March 2019.


Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
Updated 56 min 18 sec ago

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
  • Israeli security said the individuals had “met to prepare attacks”

JERUSALEM: Israel’s internal security agency said Sunday it dismantled in the north of the country a cell linked to Daesh, whose alleged sympathizers staged deadly attacks earlier this year.
“Six residents of Nazareth were arrested several weeks ago and interrogated by the Shin Bet on suspicion of seeking to carry out terrorist activities on behalf of (Daesh) inside Israel,” the agency said in a statement.
It added that the individuals had “met to prepare attacks.”
The Shin Bet agency said the probe “highlights the influence of Daesh in Israel.”
In March, four people were killed when a convicted Daesh sympathizer went on a stabbing and car-ramming rampage in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
Days later, two policemen were shot dead and several others wounded in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, in an attack that was later claimed by the jihadist group.
The Beersheba and Hadera attacks renewed long-standing concern in Israel about Daesh efforts to recruit Arab citizens, who account for roughly a fifth of the Israeli population.


Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation
Updated 02 October 2022

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

DUBAI: A Kuwaiti Emiri decree accepted the government’s resignation, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Sunday. 

The Emir has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity, the statement on KUNA added. 

Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation on Sunday, state news agency (KUNA) reported, following a parliamentary election in the country.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah received the government’s letter of resignation from Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah, KUNA reported.


Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
Updated 02 October 2022

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
  • Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad
  • Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in several countries since US imposed sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran is awaiting the release of about $7 billion in funds frozen abroad, state media said Sunday, after it allowed an Iranian-American to leave the country and released his son from detention.
Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, was released from detention in Tehran, the United Nations said on Saturday.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed biting sanctions on the Islamic republic in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran has accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of its funds “hostage,” repeatedly calling on South Korean authorities to release it.
IRNA on Sunday said that “Washington is pursuing at the same time the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds in South Korea.”
The development comes as on-off talks have been underway since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly called for the lifting of sanctions, as well as guarantees that the United States will not again pull out of a revived deal.
Baquer Namazi is a former UNICEF official who was detained in February 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The father was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.


Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds
Updated 02 October 2022

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds
  • Egypt witnessed 4,525 newborns every day over seven months and 11 days
  • Egyptian authorities have intensified efforts to raise awareness on the risks of overpopulation

CAIRO: Egypt’s population has reached 104 million after an increase by one million people in 221 days, revealed the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Over seven months and 11 days, the country recorded a newborn every 19 seconds, with the population increasing by 4,525 people per day. Meanwhile, 1,566 deaths were recorded.
Earlier in February, the domestic population reached 103 million with an increase of one million people over seven months and 22 days, recording an average of 1,858 deaths daily.

A previous study by CAPMAS ranked Egypt as the most populous country in the Arab world and the third in Africa after Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Egyptian authorities have intensified efforts to raise awareness, especially in rural areas, on the challenges that overpopulation pose on the economy and development.

In an earlier statement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said population growth is one of the biggest threats facing the country, which has been reeling from major economic challenges.


Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 
Updated 02 October 2022

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone on Friday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa discussing bilateral relations between their two countries, state news agency BNA reported. 

The two leaders discussed efforts to achieve lasting peace “that would guarantee the interests and national security of all countries”, the report said. 

The King and the Russian President underlined the importance of continued coordination and adherence to the OPEC+ Group’s decisions.

King Hamad emphasized the importance of activating channels of dialogue, negotiations and peaceful solutions to reach peace and development for all.