15 women and 40 children who were detained in jihadist prison camps in northeastern Syria controlled by Kurdish forces arrived at 3:30 a.m. local time (01:30 GMT) tonight in Villacoublay, near Paris.
According to a security source, these are 14 mothers, a young adult woman without children and 40 minors.
“The minors have been handed over to the services responsible for child support and will be subject to medical and social monitoring. The adults have been handed over to the competent judicial authorities”, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It is the largest repatriation operation of this type for three months, when 16 mothers and 35 minors were repatriated on July 5. Meanwhile, a woman and her two children had been brought back in early October.
“France thanks the local authorities in northeastern Syria (the Kurdish authorities, editor’s note) for their cooperation, which made this operation possible”, adds the Quai d’Orsay.
These women are among those French women who voluntarily went to territories controlled by jihadist groups in the Iraqi-Syrian zone and who were captured during the fall of the Organization of the Islamic State in 2019.
The children are for many of them born on the spot.
About 300 French minors who have stayed in areas where terrorist groups operate have returned to France, including 77 by repatriation, Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti said in early October during a hearing before the Senate.
The subject is sensitive in France, a country hit several times by jihadist attacks, and particularly those of November 13, 2015 in Paris and the suburbs of Paris which killed 130 people, fomented by the organization of the Islamic State (IS).
Under pressure from the families of these jihadist women detained in particularly harsh conditions in prison camps, France has long carried out measured repatriations, decided on a case-by-case basis.
But on September 14, the European Court of Human Rights, seized by the parents of two of these women, condemned France for not having properly studied these requests.
After that, the Foreign Ministry said it was ready to “consider” new repatriations “whenever conditions permitted”.
In July, the authorities in charge of the fight against terrorism had indicated that there remained a hundred women and nearly 250 children in the Syrian camps.