The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria has handed over to the Netherlands a Dutch woman, her two young sons and a Dutch woman who lived in a camp for the families of alleged Islamic State militants.
QAMISHLI, Syria – An Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria on Saturday handed over to the Netherlands a Dutch woman, her two young sons and a Dutch woman who lived in a camp for the families of alleged Islamic State militants.
A delegation from the Netherlands led by Special Envoy to Syria Emiel de Bont received the four in the city of Qamishli, in the offices of the Kurdish administration. The group will be taken home, and Kurdish authorities say the adult woman is not facing criminal charges from his administration.
The move was a small step in resolving a complex issue for European and Middle Eastern countries – what to do with the thousands of their citizens traveling to territories held by IS militants in Syria and Iraq.
At a news conference organized for the handover, De Bont said the four lived in a small settlement known as Camp Roy, holding mostly Western women who had traveled to Syria and Iraq and their children.
“This is a very specific consular legal mission that my government has decided to undertake because a Dutch court has ruled in these specific cases,” De Bont said. He did not give more details about the verdicts.
This is the second time that Dutch citizens have been repatriated from camps in northeastern Syria, where thousands of foreigners and Iraqis have been living since the defeat of the extremist group in 2019. Two Dutch orphans were returned in June 2019.
European countries did not want to return their citizens living in such circumstances. Most are concerned that there is not enough evidence to try those who joined the militant group or are afraid to maintain ties to IS.
A Dutch court ruled last year that authorities were not obliged to repatriate a group of 23 Dutch women and their 56 children currently detained in northern Syria. Experts said there would be exceptions for individual cases.
Authorities of Syrian Kurds, who were part of an international coalition fighting IS, say camps housing more than 70,000 members of the IS family are a security threat and a burden. Kurds are still fighting fleeing militants and fear that some active IS members may be in the camps.
“The international community must bear its responsibilities regarding bringing these militants to trial and repatriating their citizens,” said Syrian Kurdish official Abdulkarim Omar. He prayed for help in managing another camp, the larger, widespread al-Hall, which he called “the most dangerous camp in the world.”
Assistance groups described the difficult situation in al-Hall, which Syrian Kurdish officials have struggled to control and where killings are on the rise. They are believed to be carried out by IS supporters as punishment for those who deviate from the group’s ultimate ideology.
Thousands are also being held in prisons, and formal legal proceedings and trials are rarely held.