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Germany must repatriate Islamic State families from Syria: court

Germany must repatriate Islamic State families from Syria: court

2019/07/12 | 11:50

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)- Islamic State families at the al-Hol camp Hasaka, Syrian Kurdistan, March 2019. Photo: AFP

BERLIN,— A Berlin court has ruled that Germany’s foreign ministry should repatriate from Syria the German wife and three children of a suspected Islamic State fighter, in what a court spokesman said was the first such ruling against the government.

The man’s family sued the foreign ministry after German diplomats declined a request to help his wife return to Germany with her three children from Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurdish region in northern Syria (Rojava), the court spokesman said on Thursday.

Like other Western countries, Germany faces a dilemma of how to deal with citizens who went to the Middle East to join groups like Islamic State, which was driven out of its last territorial enclave in March by U.S.-backed forces.











The suspected fighter, whose fate is unknown, left Germany for Syria with his wife and two daughters, now aged 7 and 8, in 2014. His wife had a third child in Syria two years ago, the court spokesman said.

Germany’s government had wanted to repatriate only the children. But the Kurdish-led administration in Syrian Kurdistan, where thousands of Islamic State fighters are being held, demanded that their mother also be sent back.

A German foreign ministry spokesman said the government was studying the ruling and may appeal at a higher court. A lawyer for the family did not respond to a request for comment.

German intelligence officials say more than 1,000 Germans went to fight in Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State once controlled swathes of territory in a self-declared caliphate.

About a third have returned to Germany, another third are believed to have died, and the rest are thought still to be in Iraq and Syria, these officials say.

Syria’s Kurds have detained thousands of local and foreign fighters suspected of fighting for IS, as well as thousands of related women and children, during the US-backed battle against IS in Syria.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces expelled the extremist group from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump has urged Britain, France and Germany to take back more of their nationals from among the detainees and put them on trial.

Germany has said it would take back fighters only if the suspects have consular access, adding that in principle, all of its citizens and those suspected of having fought for Islamic State have the right to return.

But in April, the government approved a draft bill allowing it to strip Germans with a second nationality who fight abroad for groups like Islamic State of their citizenship.

U.S. has for years supported the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria, as part of an international anti-jihadist coalition dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). But U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly announced the pullout from Syria.

The Kurdish PYD and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ considered the most effective fighting force against IS. The YPG, which make up the backbone of the SDF forces, has seized swathes of Syria from Islamic State.

In 2013, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD — the political branch of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — has established three autonomous Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013. On March 17, 2016, Kurdish and Arab authorities announced the creation of a “federal region” made up of those semi-autonomous regions in Syrian Kurdistan.

Copyright © 2019, respective author or news agency, Ekurd.net | Reuters

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