Spain repatriates two women, 13 children from camps in Syria
The women and children have been held in various detention camps in northern Syria since the defeat of the Islamic State in 2019
By News Desk - January 10 2023

Three women who were married to ISIS fighters – Yolanda Martinez, Lubna Miludi and Luna Fernandez, in March 2019 in Al Hol camp (Syria).

Two Spanish women married to ISIS members and 13 children were flown back to Madrid from detention camps in Syria, according to a report published by El Pais newspaper on 10 January.

The Spanish citizens and their children arrived at the Torrejon de Ardoz military airport outside Madrid late on 9 January, nearly two months after the Spanish government approved their return.

Spain had agreed to send back three women in November, but the third woman, a teacher from one of Spain’s two enclaves in North Africa, Ceuta, could not be found, according to El Mundo.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has explained that the National Court “will proceed with the legalization of the procedural situation.”According to information from the ministry, the operation has been prolonged for several months “due to its complexity and the risky situation inside the Syrian camps.”

Due to their alleged assistance to ISIS, the women will be charged with participation in a terrorist organization. According to El Pais, they could spend up to five years in prison.

The Spanish government worked out the proceedings for the repatriation process for a total of four women and 17 children and adolescents in 2022 – the oldest, aged 15; the youngest, already born in captivity, aged only 3 – with roots in Spain and currently in the custody of Kurdish militias since the defeat of ISIS in its last stronghold, the town of Baghuz, in March 2019.

Relatives of extremist fighters have also been repatriated to Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

On 1 November 2022, authorities in the Netherlands announced the repatriation of 28 children and 12 women from refugee camps in northern Syria, according to Al-Arabiya News.

“The cabinet is transferring twelve Dutch women suspected of terrorist offenses and their 28 children to the Netherlands,” two government ministers said.

“The women will be arrested after arrival in the Netherlands and will be tried,” Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius said in a letter to parliament.

The Executive, after a long previous process, has completed a “special procedure” of transfer that will mean that the twelve women will remain in custody, awaiting a foreseeable trial for terrorism. The 28 minors have been placed at the disposal of social services, according to a statement from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice.

Western countries have faced a dilemma over handling their citizens detained in Syria since the end of military operations against ISIS in 2019.

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