French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has dismissed reports that his country is mulling over repatriating Daesh militants and their families detained in Syria after the elimination of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” of the Takfiri terrorist group in the war-torn country.
“It’s logical that our services considered all hypotheses. This was one of the hypotheses they prepared,” Castaner said at a press conference on Friday following a meeting of G7 interior ministers in Paris.
“No communal repatriation was under consideration to be carried out,” he said, reiterating that France would nonetheless study bringing back children of the terrorists on a “case-by-case basis.”
The top French diplomat also rejected an allegation by daily newspaper Libération that France’s policy with regards to Daesh in Syria was being dictated by public opinion.
Libération reported on Friday that the government had voiced readiness in early March to repatriate around 250 men, women and children before it decided to shelve the plan over public outrage.
Last month, French authorities for the first time brought home five orphaned children of French Daesh terrorists from camps in northeastern Syria.
Up to 1,700 French nationals are thought to have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Takfiri terrorists between 2014 and 2018, according to government figures. About 300 are believed to have died in combat.
Prominent French militant Jean-Michel Clain was killed in Syria in mid-February as US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were fighting to retake the group’s last enclave in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr.
Clain’s wife Dorothee Maquere told AFP on March 5 that he had been killed in mortar shelling less than two weeks ago.
Maquere, fully veiled in black and surrounded by her five children, added that her husband had earlier been wounded when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh carried out a drone strike against the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border on February 20.
“The drone killed my brother-in-law (Fabien) and then the mortar killed my husband,” she said as she was cradling her two-week-old baby under a red blanket at a screening area run by SDF militants.
Fabien Clain, 41, achieved notoriety after he claimed responsibility for a series of violent attacks targeting cafes and a concert hall in the French capital city of Paris on November 13, 2015, which took the lives of at least 129 people.