Canada’s government on Thursday said it was in the process of repatriating 14 Canadians – four women and 10 children – from detention camps in northeast Syria where foreigners who had allegedly been affiliated with Islamic State have been held.
“Amidst reports of deteriorating conditions in the camps in northeastern Syria, we have been particularly concerned about the health and wellbeing of Canadian children,” the foreign ministry and the public safety ministry said in a joint statement.
“Today, 4 Canadian women and 10 Canadian children are being repatriated to Canada. As long as conditions allow, we will continue this work.”
Canada’s government, led by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has faced criticism for moving too slowly to repatriate its citizens held in the Syrian camps. The government has always said the situation on the ground was too unstable.
“The situation in northeastern Syria is incredibly volatile,” Trudeau said on Wednesday when asked about media reports that some citizens would be brought home.
Some of the adults that return to Canada could face prosecution for supporting Islamic State.
“Where there is sufficient evidence, law enforcement and public safety agencies will independently take the necessary steps to keep our communities safe,” the statement said.
“It is a serious criminal offence for anyone to leave Canada to knowingly support a terrorist group, and those who engage in these activities will face the full force of Canadian law.”