French grandparents sue state for refusing to bring back Isil orphans aged 2 and 5 from Syria camp

The grandmothers of two orphaned children of French jihadists held in camps in Syria are suing the French state for failing to bring them back to France, their lawyer said Tuesday.

The children, a girl aged five and a two-year-old boy, are in the care of a Kurdish militia at the Roj camp in Al Hasakah, north-eastern Syria, according to the lawyer, Samia Maktouf.

“They are in real danger without more international military protection,” said Ms Maktouf, who has represented the families of people killed in terror attacks in France including the 2015 Bataclan atrocity.

“These children, born under terror, should not undergo further suffering. France has a duty to protect them.”

The boy’s mother was aged only 14 when she ran away from her home in France and went to the then Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) stronghold of Raqqa, in Syria, in 2014.

Radicalised online, she died last year during the bombing of Raqqa by US-led coalition forces. The child’s father is described as a European convert to Islam, said to have died after being detained in Iraq.

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Ms Maktouf said she will argue in court that France has a duty of care towards the two orphans because it is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. No date has been set for a court hearing so far.

The children were reportedly born in Syria but are eligible for French citizenship.  

Ms Maktouf said they could be in danger from further fighting in Syria or could fall back into the hands of Isil and suffer further indoctrination.

Plans to repatriate French jihadists and their children have raised huge public opposition in France. An opinion poll last week suggested that 82 per cent of French people think they should be left in camps and tried in Iraq.

France has been hit by a wave of terror attacks and the French now appear more concerned about security than the rights of jihadists.

Many believe there can be no extenuating circumstances for those who joined terrorist groups and there should be no leniency for their wives or children.

About 100 French children are now being held in camps in Syria controlled by Kurdish militia. Their families in France are petitioning the UN to put pressure on the French government to allow them back.

France has said some 150 jihadists and children will be allowed to return to France and the adults will face trial. However, 13 French jihadists captured by Kurdish forces in Syria have been handed over to Iraqi authorities to be tried in Iraq.

Nicole Belloubet, the French justice minister, has said that if they are sentenced to death, France will put pressure on the Iraqi authorities to jail them instead.

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