AANES hands over two children of female ISIS member to Switzerland

The External Relations Office of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria handed over two children of a Swiss ISIS member to a delegation of the Swiss government on Monday.

A delegation from the Swiss Foreign Office visited the autonomous region of northern and eastern Syria and picked up two children of a Swiss ISIS jihadist. The delegation included Stéphanie Périllard and Antoine Laham from the Swiss Foreign Ministry. The delegates were received by Fenar al-Kait, Deputy Co-Chair of the Autonomous Administration’s External Relations Office.

Al-Kait called on states to take the relatives of ISIS jihadists out of the environment in the camps and return them to their states of origin. He thanked the countries that have responded to the appeals of the Autonomous Administration and said, "This issue is dangerous and sensitive. International partnership is needed here. This is the only way to prevent ISIS from reorganising and building a new generation of terrorists. The Swiss government is playing a positive role in this regard."

Stéphanie Périllard thanked the Autonomous Administration for handing over the two children. The children were then handed over to the Swiss delegation in accordance with protocol.

Swiss policy: Only repatriate children

The Swiss repatriation policy is controversial, as the government only takes back minors. Adult jihadists are not accepted by Switzerland. According to a Federal Council decision, this also applies to the mothers who are not repatriated. However, the policy of the Autonomous Administration is not to separate children from their mothers. Since the mother agreed to the children being transferred to their father in Switzerland, they were able to make the return journey.

Within ISIS since 2016

The repatriation of the children was the first such action by Switzerland. The two girls, aged 10 and 15, were brought to Switzerland via Iraq. In 2016, they had been abducted by their mother from Switzerland to the ISIS-occupied territories and lived there for three years under ISIS rule. Since the liberation of the region, they had been in the Roj detention camp for relatives of ISIS jihadists together with their mother.