Kyrgyzstan repatriates 95 from Syria detention camps holding IS families

Kyrgyzstan repatriates 95 from Syria detention camps holding IS families
Thousands of people from Kyrgyzstan and other neighbouring Central Asian countries joined Islamist militant groups in Syria during the civil war, including the so-called Islamic State group.
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Thousands of people who are family members of IS fighters are currently held in detention across northeast Syria waiting to be repatriated to their home countries [Getty]

Kyrgyzstan said Wednesday that it had repatriated 95 wives and children of Islamist extremists from detention camps in Syria, in the third such operation by the Central Asian country.

"Thirty-one women and 64 children who are Kyrgyz citizens were transferred from Syria to Kyrgyzstan," said the foreign ministry in a statement, without detailing how many more of its nationals remain in internment camps in northeastern Syria.

Thousands of Kyrgyzstan nationals joined Islamist militant groups in Syria, and the return of the families of Islamic State fighters who were captured or killed is a thorny issue for many countries.


The ministry said it was "grateful" to the United States for "full assistance and logistical support" in the operation, as well as thanking UNICEF and the Red Cross.

Kyrgyzstan has already twice taken back its citizens from Syria or Iraq. In March 2021, 79 children were repatriated while in February this year another 59 women and children were returned.

Thousands of people from the former Soviet republics of Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan - joined various Islamist militant groups including the so-called Islamic State group, particularly between 2013 and 2015.

The former Soviet republics have been worried by the return of the Taliban to power in neighbouring Afghanistan.

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The "caliphate", which IS proclaimed across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, was declared defeated in 2019 following counter-offensives in both Iraq and Syria.

Thousands of jihadists and their family members continue to be held in detention centres and informal camps where US commanders have warned they could fuel an IS revival.

Despite repeated calls for their repatriation, foreign governments have allowed only a trickle to return home, fearing security threats and domestic political backlashes.