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UK government set to repatriate some orphaned children from Syria

Britain had previously ruled out any type of rescue mission for citizens stranded in Syria
Thousands of foreign nationals are stranded in camps scattered across northeastern Syria (AFP)

The UK government is set to repatriate some orphaned children stranded in Kurdish camps holding individuals who had fled territory controlled by Islamic State (IS) in northeastern Syria. 

Britain has been one of the few European countries who had previously dismissed any plan to repatriate citizens left stranded in Syria. 

Previously, UK officials said it was too dangerous to send British personnel into Syria to retrieve individuals who had travelled to IS-held territory. 

Turkey begins deportation of Western citizens suspected of joining Islamic State
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Those stranded in Syria include minors and infants born to suspected IS members. 

Speaking on Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “These innocent, orphaned, children should never have been subjected to the horrors of war.

"We have facilitated their return home, because it was the right thing to do. Now they must be allowed the privacy and given the support to return to a normal life.”

In a statement responding to the report, Alison Griffin, head of Humanitarian Campaigns at Save the Children, said: “Today the UK government is transforming the lives of these innocent children who have been through terrible things that are far beyond their control.

“They will now have the precious chance to recover, have happy childhoods and live full lives. We should be proud of everyone who has worked to make this happen.

"There are still... British children that remain stranded in appalling conditions and Syria’s harsh winter will soon begin to bite

"All are as innocent as those rescued today and our very real fear is that they won’t all survive to see the spring. They must all be brought home before it is too late.”

Turkey deportations

The United Nations has also urged countries to take responsibility for its citizens left abandoned in northern Syria. 

Turkey meanwhile has begun to deport European nationals suspected of travelling to Islamic State-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. 

Last week, Turkey deported several suspected IS members back to Britain, Denmark, Germany and the United States. 

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of IS in custody, and had captured 287 during its offensive in Syria.

The Hurriyet newspaper said Wednesday that 959 suspects were being prepared for deportation, with the largest numbers coming from Iraq, Syria and Russia.