Qamishli, Syria: Syria’s Kurd handed two children from Trinidad and Tobago to their mother on Monday, four years after their extremist father brought them to Daesh’s “caliphate”, a lawyer said.
Ayyub Ferreira, 7, and his brother Mahmoud, 11, were to leave Syria after Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters helped fly their mother to meet them, lawyer and rights activist Clive Stafford-Smith said.
“The two children were kidnapped by their father from Trinidad and brought 6,000 kilometres over here” in June 2014, he said.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq that year, declaring a “caliphate” and attracting thousands of foreign extremists.
It has since lost most of that territory to various offensives, including to one led by Kurdish fighters and backed by the US-led coalition.
“The two children were freed from the Raqqa area several months ago,” said Fener Al Qait, a foreign affairs official with Syria’s semi-autonomous Kurdish authorities.
A Daesh fighter, “the father was married to another woman. He was killed and his wife fled,” he added.
Stafford-Smith said he tracked down the children’s mother.
“I was talking to Roger Waters, the founder of Pink Floyd, the famous rock and roll band ... He agreed to pay for it all and flew the mother over from Trinidad,” the US-British lawyer said.
Cricketer or footballer
Once the boys are out of Syria, “we’re going to make sure that they get on with a really productive, decent life,” he said.
“One of them said he wanted to be a professional cricketer, and the other one said he wanted to be a professional footballer.”
Kurdish-led forces have rounded up hundreds of foreigners who allegedly fought for Daesh, but they also hold more than 1,200 children and 500 women related to them.
The Kurds have repeatedly called on their home countries to take them back.
But Western governments have largely been reluctant, with public opinion against it after a series of Daesh-claimed attacks in Europe.
Stafford-Smith advocated for bringing other children home.
“When you look at the 1,248 children that are currently in custody here, obviously we’ve got to do the same for them,” he said.
And, he said, “we cannot just take children back without taking their parents”.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests, before evolving into a complex conflict, including foreign powers and extremists.