Netherlands brings 12 women, linked to Islamic State, back from Syria

The Dutch government is bringing back 12 Dutch women, suspected of terrorist crimes, from northern Syria to the Netherlands on Tuesday. Many of them have been trapped in camps there for a long time. Their 28 children will be handed over to the Child Protection Board. Once in the Netherlands, the women will be detained and tried, the ministries of Justice and Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs reported to Parliament today.

Several European countries have been repatriating citizens who got evolved with Islamic State. Belgium is one of several countries in the process of repatriating compatriots who have been stuck in Syria since the caliphate fell in 2019. In June of this year, Belgium brought back six women and 16 children, the second group to be repatriated since the government decided in March 2021 to bring children of IS fighters back to Belgium. In early July, France repatriated 16 mothers and 35 minors. In October last year, Germany repatriated eight women and 23 children from northern Syria.

With its newest operation on Tuesday, the government in The Hague wants to ensure that the 12 women do not go unpunished. The government has always been reluctant to repatriate women who have chosen to go to Syria, partly because such an operation would be too dangerous. But under pressure from the courts, the government is now taking action. Belgium, too, initially resisted bringing back its citizens from Syria, leading to lengthy legal proceedings and widespread criticism.

The Rotterdam court ruled in May this year that the suspects had to be brought to the Netherlands for trial. The government says the women will be brought to the Netherlands through a "special operation" after "a careful preparation process".

According to the ministry, it is the largest group of women to be retrieved so far.



Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra © PHOTO by Beate Oma Dahle / NTB / AFP

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels