Twelve women and 28 children will be repatriated to the Netherlands from detention camps in northern Syria, the Dutch government announced on Tuesday, making the country’s largest group yet to be brought back.

They will face charges on their return for joining the Islamic State group.

The move comes after a Dutch court in May recommended that the women be returned immediately to the Netherlands, or that a commitment to return then be made within four months.

“The cabinet is transferring twelve Dutch women suspected of terrorist offences and their 28 children to the Netherlands,” two government ministers said.

The ministerial letter declined to say from which camp the women and children will be fetched or when, adding only it will be done via a “special operation”.

The children will be taken into the care of the Dutch child protection services, the ministers added.

Western countries have faced a dilemma over how to handle their citizens detained in Syria since the end of military operations against the Islamic State group there in 2019.

Thousands of extremists in Europe decided to join the group as fighters, often taking their wives and children to live in the “caliphate” declared in territory conquered in Iraq and Syria.

Some 300 Dutch citizens travelled to Syria during the height of the civil war, according to Dutch government figures.


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