Syria Kurds say repatriated US child, German and children

UNICEF Representative in Syria Hanaa Singer (center) speaks with children around a fire near the last checkpoint before Madaya town on 14 January 2016. Photo Credit: UNICEF/UN07487/Omar

Qamishli (Syria) (AFP) – Syria’s Kurds have handed over an American toddler and three German children and their mother to their respective governments, a Kurdish official and a Kurdish source said on Saturday.

After years of leading the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria, the Kurds hold hundreds of foreign men, and thousands of related women and children suspected of links to the extremists.

Abdelkarim Omar, a senior official with the Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria, said the handover went ahead on Friday.

“An American child and three German children with their mother were handed over to their governments,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

A Kurdish source said the American girl — who was born in 2016 — was handed over to a US official at the Samalka crossing with Iraqi Kurdistan, but could not provide any further details about her parents.

Germany’s Bild newspaper has reported the American child was the daughter of the German woman’s first husband, who was a US citizen.

Germany on Friday said it was repatriating its first IS suspect, and that she and her three German children had crossed into Iraq on their way home.

Spiegel magazine named the mother as Laura H., 30, and said she and her children had been living in the overcrowded Al-Hol camp for the displaced in northeastern Syria.

She is believed to have travelled to Syria from Giessen in central Germany in March 2016, and to have joined IS that summer.

The Kurdish authorities have repeatedly urged Western countries to repatriate their nationals linked to IS, but they have been largely reluctant to do so.

A Turkish invasion of northern Syria last month sparked concern of a mass breakout from Kurdish-held jails and camps.

Germany had already brought home a handful of orphans, but no adults until Friday.

Austria, France and Belgium have also repatriated some orphaned children, while the United States has repatriated several women and their children.

An Albanian boy taken by his mother to join IS in Syria returned to his home in Italy earlier this month.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have all repatriated dozens of women and children.

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