Russian orphans born to parents linked to the Islamic State (IS) wait in a bus before Syrian Kurdish authorities hand them over to a Russian delegation for repatriation, in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on July 3, 2021. AFP
Syria's Kurds on Saturday handed over 20 orphaned children born to parents linked to the Islamic State group to a Russian delegation for repatriation.
Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria hold thousands of foreigners with alleged ties to the jihadist group in their custody, after spearheading a US-backed battle against IS that seized the last patch of their territory in early 2019.
Alleged foreign fighters are held in jails, while women and children with ties to the group live in camps for the displaced in northeast Syria.
"Twenty Russian children who were in the Roj camp were handed over," the Kurdish authorities said in a statement.
"They are aged three to 16 years old, and all are orphans in good health."
It said the latest repatriations brought to 205 people those sent home to Russia so far.
In April, 34 orphans returned to Russia from the Kurdish-held region.
Syria's Kurds have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate foreign nationals held in crowded camps.
But their calls have largely fallen on deaf ears with only limited numbers, mostly children, allowed to return home until now.
The latest repatriations come after the International Committee of the Red Cross this week sounded the alarm over the Kurdish authorities holding "hundreds of children" in adult prisons.
Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdelkarim Omar on Friday urged international help to set up rehabilitation centres for minors in the region, which so far only has one such re-education facility and another under preparation.