Children of Islamic State fighters who suffer from malnourishment are seen at a hospital in Hasaka, northeastern Syria, April 6, 2019.
Children of Islamic State fighters who suffer from malnourishment are seen at a hospital in Hasaka, northeastern Syria, April 6, 2019.

Kurdish officials in northeastern Syria have handed over 14 orphaned children of Islamic State jihadis to delegations from France and the Netherlands, where they have familial ties. 

The children, the oldest of whom is 10, had been held in camps with tens of thousands of people who fled recent fighting against Islamic State.

The French interior ministry said 12 children were handed over to the judicial authorities after they were brought to France and "are now subject to special medical monitoring and care by social services."

The other two children were take to the Netherlands. 

Since the defeat of Islamic State in March, the international community has been trying to figure out what to do with the families of foreign jihadists captured or killed in Syria and Iraq.

FILE - Woman and children of Islamic state militants walk as they surrendered in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria, March 14, 2019.

Thousands of men and women from around the world left their homes to fight and live alongside Islamic State fighters. While the home countries have been agreeable about repatriating abandoned or orphaned children, many have refused to do the same for adults. 

France has one of the largest contingents of suspected fighters who were captured or turned themselves in in the last days of the so-called caliphate. Their fate has sparked an alarm over what should be done with the foreigners. 

Controversy over trials

Nearly a dozen French nationals are at risk of execution in Iraq after an Iraqi court sentenced them to death over IS affiliation. Iraq has vowed to take a hard line against anyone convicted of involvement with the group.  

Humans rights groups are calling on France and other countries to save those men, accusing Iraqi authorities of inconsistencies in the judicial process and flawed trials, leading to unfair convictions.

But many European nations, including France and Britain, have repeatedly ruled out allowing such individuals to return, arguing instead they should face trial for any alleged crimes before local courts.

They have made an exception for the children. 

France has already repatriated five orphans from Syria in March and a 3-year-old girl whose mother had been sentenced to life imprisonment in Iraq.

Last week, a Norwegian envoy took custody of five children of IS members who were killed in Syria. Last month, Iraq handed over 188 Turkish children of suspected IS members to Ankara.

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