Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria have handed over to Britain three children who had been living in a camp housing the families of suspected ISIS jihadists, a senior official said.
“On 18 October, three British children from ISIS families were handed over to Britain,” said Abdulkarim Omar, the semi-autonomous administration’s top foreign policy official, using another acronym for ISIS.
The handover was conducted within the framework of an official repatriation document signed with the British foreign office, Omar said in a statement.
The children were handed over in the presence of Jonathan Hargreaves, the British envoy to Syria.
Omar did not divulge the identity of the children or their parents, nor did he provide any details on the camp they had been living in or for how long.
Another Kurdish official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press said the children were a two-year-old girl and her two brothers aged seven and nine.
Their mother was not transferred to Britain and stayed behind in one of the camps where tens of thousands of relatives of suspected ISIS members, many of them foreigners, are penned-in.
The Kurdish authorities have consistently said they lack the financial means and the legal infrastructure to hold or prosecute so many individuals.
Western countries have been reluctant to bring their nationals home, wary of the impact mass repatriations could have on domestic security and public opinion.
The attacker of a British MP who was stabbed to death in his constituency last week had been referred to the official counter-terrorist scheme for people thought to be at risk of radicalization, according to UK media reports.
Rights groups have advocated for a plan to at least take children out of the overcrowded camps in northeast Syria, where violent crime and radical ideology are festering unchecked.
According to a Save the Children report released last month, a total of 40,000 children from 60 different nationalities are living in dire conditions in the two main camps of Al-Hol and Roj.
The charity said 62 children had died of various causes so far this year, including violence, disease and accidents.