Germany Begins Repatriating Children Born to Islamic State Militants in Syria

The four German children were held in Kurdish-administered detention camps along with 70,000 Syrian women and children

An internal security patrol escorts women, reportedly wives of Islamic State fighters, in the al-Hol camp in al-Hasakeh, Syria, July 23, 2019.
AFP

Four German children fathered by Islamic State militants, including an ill toddler, were handed over to Germany on Monday by Syria's Kurdish-led administration, a Kurdish official and Germany's foreign minister said.

The children had been held in detention camps in Syria alongside over 70,000 women and children, many of them foreigners, who emerged from the last ISIS-controlled territories in Syria.

Two of the German children are orphans, while a third, who is six months old, is ill. Her mother gave permission for her handover to German authorities, said Abdulkarim Omar, a foreign affairs official in the U.S-backed Kurdish-led administration.

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He said the handover occurred at a Syrian border crossing with Iraq in the presence of a German foreign ministry official.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Berlin it was "very gratifying" that the four children were no longer in Syria.

"We will continue to work so further children can leave Syria. They are mainly small children and their accommodation there is anything but ideal," he said.

"In the end, they can't be held responsible for the actions of their parents," he added.

Germany is the latest European country to repatriate children born to ISIS militants. Germany has repatriated some children of convicted ISIS militants in Iraq, but this was the first time it brought home children still held in Syria.

"In each individual case there will be difficult questions to answer, such as the identification, but also organizing their departure," Maas said.