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British woman and three children linked to IS in Syria handed to UK delegation

Kurdish forces patrol al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the Islamic State group in Hasakeh province, Syria (Baderkhan Ahmad/AP)
Kurdish forces patrol al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the Islamic State group in Hasakeh province, Syria (Baderkhan Ahmad/AP)

A British woman and three children linked to the militant so-called Islamic State group in Syria were handed over to a UK delegation that visited the region this week, Syrian Kurdish-led authorities said on Friday.

The handover, which took place on Wednesday, is the latest in a push to repatriate people from al-Hol and Roj camps in northeastern Syria that house tens of thousands, mostly wives and children of Islamic State (IS) militants but also supporters of the extremist group.

The Kurdish authorities did not release the names of the four, saying only they were held at Roj camp before the handover.

According to a statement, a delegation led by Britain’s special representative for Syria, Ann Snow, visited northeastern Syria, where they discussed with the Kurdish authorities the ongoing threat that IS still poses, five years after the extremists lost the last sliver of land they once controlled in large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Elham Ahmad, the co-chair for foreign relations in the regional Syrian Kurdish administration, said “radical solutions should be found for the problem of terrorism”.

Thousands of IS members and suspects held in jails in northeast Syria should face justice, she added.

In 2014, IS declared a caliphate in large parts of Iraq and Syria and attracted tens of thousands of supporters from around the world. The extremists were defeated by a US-led coalition in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria in 2019.

Tens of thousands of people linked to the group were taken to al-Hol camp, close to the Iraqi border.

Over the past five years about 30,000 people, mostly Iraqis and Syrians, have left al-Hol camp and been repatriated. More than 2,000 are also held in Roj camp.

Earlier this month, the United States said it repatriated 11 of its citizens from al-Hol and Roj camps, the largest group to date that Washington has taken out of the two sprawling camps.

Earlier in May, more than 200 Syrians were taken from al-Hol to their hometowns in Syria’s eastern province that borders Iraq.