The wives of suspected ISIS militants are permitted to return home because some European governments have taken pity on their children

Women with children walk at Camp Roj in northeastern Syria, where relatives of people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group are held,
Women with children walk at Camp Roj in northeastern Syria, where relatives of people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group are held,
  • Germany and Denmark have repatriated women and children with suspected ISIS connections from Syria.
  • The German Foreign Minister said the children were "in no way responsible for their circumstances."
  • Several of the women have been arrested upon return to Europe and will face criminal charges.

Germany and Denmark have repatriated women and children from a Syrian camp where people with connections to suspected ISIS militants are held, the German foreign ministry said.

On Wednesday, 23 children and their eight mothers arrived at Frankfurt airport, German officials said, while Denmark repatriated 14 children and three women.

The women and children lived in the Roj prison camp in northeast Syria, which is under Kurdish control.

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement that he was "pleased" to have brought the women and children home, noting that the children were "in particular need of protection."

"The children are in no way responsible for their circumstances. It is right for us to do everything we can to enable them to grow up in a safe and appropriate environment," he said.

He added that the women would be held accountable for their acts under criminal law.

German federal prosecutors said that three of the women were arrested upon arrival at Frankfurt airport and charged with membership of a foreign terror organization and neglecting their children's care and upbringing, Middle East Eye reported.

Danish authorities also said they had arrested three of the repatriated women and had charged them with "promotion of terrorist activities" and "entry and residence in a conflict zone," the paper said.

Many European captives in Syrian camps are suspected to be wives and children of ISIS fighters, and countries have been grappling with what to do with them.

A recent report by Asharq al-Awsat, quoted by Al-Monitor, said that Roj camp holds about 2,500 people with suspected ISIS connections, most of whom hold European or American citizenship.

In December 2020, Germany repatriated five women and 18 children in a joint operation with Finland, and Belgium repatriated ten children and six mothers in July.

Most governments decide whether to repatriate individuals on a case-by-case basis, and some have refused to take citizens back based on security concerns.

Shamima Begum, the British schoolgirl who joined ISIS in 2015, was denied repatriation and stripped of her UK citizenship.

Human rights groups have urged countries to take citizens back, arguing that leaving individuals in camps leaves them vulnerable to further radicalization and illness.

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