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Norway repatriates and arrests two sisters and their children from Syria

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Norway repatriates and arrests two sisters and their children from Syria
The two women have been repatriated to Norway. Women and children walk at Camp Roj, where relatives of people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group are held, in the countryside near al-Malikiyah (Derik) in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)

Norway, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, repatriated two sisters who went to Syria as teenagers as well as their three children, citing abysmal conditions in the displacement camp where they were housed.

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"The living conditions in the camps are extremely bad and dangerous. These Norwegian children have been living for a long time in these camps where no children should have to live", Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

They were handed over on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Kurdish administration in northeast Syria. They landed at Gardermoen at 12:40am on Wednesday. 

The two sisters of Somali origin clandestinely left Norway for Syria in late 2013, aged 16 and 19, to join a popular uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as they would later explain in an e-mail exchange.

Norwegian writer Asne Seierstad recounted their experiences in a book. The sisters, now aged 29 and 25, are between them mothers to three daughters born from partnerships with Islamic State group fighters, according to Norwegian paper Verdens Gang.

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"The two women themselves asked for assistance to return with their children (and) know they will be arrested on arrival in Norway," said Huitfeldt.

The two women were arrested by the police security service PST on their arrival to Gardermoen. The two women are charged with participation in the terrorist organisation The Islamic State (IS)

The semi-autonomous Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria said that "two women and three children from IS families" who were in the Roj camp were
handed over to a Norwegian diplomat on Tuesday.

A statement said the children were aged six, seven and eight. The situation of the sisters has been much discussed in Norway, as have similar cases involving youngsters from other European countries who made their way to Syria.

One such case was that of Shamima Begum, 23, who was stripped of her British citizenship after travelling to Syria as a teen to marry an IS fighter and who last month lost her legal battle to reverse the decision.

Huitfeldt noted that the United States as well as the UN and Kurdish authorities have been backing repatriation in such cases, citing instability
in the region.

Norway in 2020 repatriated a woman from Syria with IS links as one of her children was seriously ill.

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