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The New Arab

UK to repatriate British orphans of Islamic State fighters from Syria

There are currently 60 British children and 30 women being held by Kurdish authorities. [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 November, 2019

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The orphaned children have been handed over to a Foreign Office delegation and have reportedly left Syria.

The United Kingdom will for the first time repatriate a number of orphaned British children from an area of north-east Syria formally controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Thursday that the "innocent" children "should never have been subjected to the horrors of war".

"We have facilitated their return home, because it was the right thing to do," a statement added.

They are expected to arrive in the UK in the coming days, with no further details of their repatriation available due to security reasons.

The orphaned children have been handed over to a Foreign Office delegation and have left Syria, BBC Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville said.

There are currently 60 British children and 30 women being held by Kurdish authorities in northern Syria, a report by Human Rights Watch released in October stated.

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British charity Save The Children welcomed the repatriation but called on the government to do more.

"All of these children need to be repatriated now - especially as we head into winter conditions - these camps are not set up for this kind of harsh weather we might see in Syria."

So far only around 1,200 foreign nationals have been repatriated from Syria and Iraq, to Turkey, Kosovo, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, Human Rights Watch says.

Earlier this week, it was reported that UK Home Secretary Priti Patel had blocked the planned initiative to rescue British orphans and unaccompanied minors home from Syria.

The ministers' claim that the children posed "security concerns" led to the rescue operation - scheduled for late October - being called off at the last minute.

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