(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
PARIS - Three French-born children belonging to suspected Islamic State militants and who were being held by Iraqi authorities have been flown back to Paris, a foreign ministry official said on Thursday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was the first such repatriation of French children from Iraq.France, like other European nations, is wrestling with how to deal with suspected militants and their families seeking to return from combat zones in Iraq and Syria, as well as those in detention, after Islamic State surrendered huge swathes of territory under military pressure.
It has suffered a series of deadly militant attacks over the past three years and is grappling with the threat of homegrown militancy as well as the risks posed by Islamic State fighters slipping back across French borders.
"Their return was organized in coordination with the authorities in Iraq," a foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters.
French media reported that the family had left France for Iraq in 2015. The father was killed during the battle for Mosul and Iraqi forces later detained the mother and her four children in July, media said.
She and her youngest child remain in detention in Iraq, said Vincent Brengarth, the lawyer acting on her behalf. Her three older children, aged between three and eight years, were now in foster care after arriving back on Dec. 18.