Ninety-Nine Kyrgyz Citizens Brought Home From Syria

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has reported that 99 citizens of Kyrgyzstan – 28 of women and 71 children – have been brought home from Syria. The mission to return them from special camps in the north-east of the country was organized with the support of the U.S. government.

The ministry said: “The Kyrgyz side expresses its special gratitude to the American side and international partners for their full assistance in the special operation and logistical support for the successful implementation of the fifth major campaign for the repatriation of citizens left in a difficult situation.”

This is the fifth mission to repatriate Kyrgyz citizens from the combat zone in Syria. The first stage of repatriation was carried out a year ago. In total, about 130 women and 300 children have returned home on special airplanes. According to authorities, all Kyrgyz arriving from Syria are being accommodated in a rehabilitation center to receive appropriate services to help them adapt to life in a peaceful environment.

According to the latest public data from Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security, more than 850 Kyrgyz have traveled to the combat zone in Syria — 150 of whom have died in fighting. Active recruitment of Kyrgyz citizens began at the beginning of the war in Syria, mainly in the south of the country, where the influence of extremist Islamic movements was strong. Both men and women were recruited.

After arriving in Syria, Kyrgyz women married jihadists and lived there, while Kyrgyz men joined militant groups. At the same time, some men returned from the ATS and recruited members for terrorist groups on the instructions of the Syrian jihadists. On many occasions Kyrgyz intelligence officers have found large quantities of banned extremist literature and propaganda materials in the possession of men who came home to recruit.

Today the Kyrgyz special services are still searching for those Kyrgyz who fought in Syria and haven’t returned home. Investigations focusing on those people are ongoing, and if it’s proven that they took part in extremist activities abroad, criminal cases will be brought against them.