Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry says more than 60 children have arrived in the Central Asian country from Iraq, where their parents are being held over membership in the terrorist group of Daesh and other militant outfits.
The ministry announced in a statement released on Friday that 64 children were brought home by plane on Thursday night thanks to a joint effort involving the authorities of both countries and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
It added that the children – fourteen of them under the age of three – had suffered “moral, psychological and physical problems” after their parents chose “a wrong path” by joining militant groups in Iraq.
The children will be housed in special accommodations where they will receive “medical, psychological and social assistance by specialists,” the ministry said, adding that the parents had given permission for the repatriation.
The Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in September it planned to bring 235 citizens, including 65 children, to the country from Iraq after it repatriated 156 citizens from there in May.
Back on May 29, Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria handed over 148 Uzbek women and children linked to Daesh to diplomats from the Central Asian country for repatriation.
Uzbekistan has provided some 1,500 soldiers to Daesh in Iraq and Syria, according to the Soufan Group, a New York intelligence consultancy.
Daesh has claimed that Uzbeks were responsible for some of its most high-profile bombings in Iraq.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.
In the run-up to Mosul’s liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.