4 Albanian women, 9 children to be repatriated from Syria

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Four Albanian women and nine children, all related to Albanians who joined Islamist extremist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq, are being repatriated from a Syrian camp, a Kurdish official from northeast Syria said Friday.

Abdul-Karim Omar, an official who negotiates with countries on the return of their citizens, tweeted that, “13 Albanians (4 women and 9 children) of the families of ISIS organization were handed over to an official Albanian government delegation.”

He also posted a photo with Albania’s anti-terror department chief Alban Dautaj.

The Albanian government did not confirm the report, but an official, speaking anonymously due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the repatriated Albanians were expected to land late Friday night.

Twenty-five other Albanian women and children whose husbands and fathers joined Islamic State terror group and most often have been killed in the fighting have been brought back home in three previous missions, the last one in July 2021.

Authorities have not specified the number of Albanians still in detention camps in Syria, only saying they have been identified. Their relatives in Albania say 52 children are still in Syria, including the 13 being repatriated Friday.

A few hundred Albanians joined the Islamic State and other groups fighting in Syria and Iraq in the early 2010s. Many were killed, and their widows and children are stuck in Syrian camps.

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Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Lebanon contributed.

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