France Takes Back Children From Syrian POW Camps: Ministry

(Bloomberg) -- France has repatriated several orphans or isolated children aged five and under from camps in the north of Syria where they’d been held as prisoners of war by Kurdish forces.

France has so far refused requests by the U.S. and Syrian Kurds to take back French nationals who’d joined Islamic state, saying they should be judged by the Syrian militias or Iraqi forces that captured them. However, the government has said it would consider accepting women and children on a case-by-case basis.

“The decision was taken because of the age of these particularly vulnerable children,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday. “As for French adult fighters and jihadists who followed Daech to the Middle East, the French position has not changed: they must be judged where they committed their crimes. It’s a question of both justice and security.”

The children will receive special medical and psychological checks, and their relatives have been informed, according to the statement. The French government also thanked the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces for their help.

According to estimates by the Soufan Center, a non-government organization dedicated to research on global security issues, about 2,000 French have joined the Islamic State, which the French refer to as Daech. Some went as families, while others married and had children while in Syria.

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