Exclusive: Rare testimony from jihadi brides in Syria as IS group 'caliphate' crumbles

In this special report, FRANCE 24 met jihadi brides fleeing the final military operation to defeat the Islamic State (IS) group in eastern Syria. Baghouz is the jihadists' last stronghold, and the fighters along with civilians have been fleeing in droves. To some of these women, getting out of the so-called "caliphate" is a relief, to others it's a betrayal of what they believe in. FRANCE 24 met these so-called jihadi brides in a refugee camp, where our team heard their often chilling stories.


In eastern Syria, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the international coalition are closing in on Baghouz, the last stronghold of the Islamic State (IS) group.

Day after day, the fierce fighting and dire humanitarian conditions force civilians to flee the small territory still controlled by the IS group. Among them are many foreign women who came from around the world to join the so-called "caliphate".

In order to survive, these jihadi brides – many of them foreigners – only have one way out: to surrender, with their children in tow, to the Syrian Democratic Forces, who would rather not have to deal with them.

>> Gender bias: ‘A woman is a jihadist like any other’

Who are these women? Why did they go to Syria at the height of the IS group’s reign of terror? FRANCE 24’s reporters were able to speak to some of them at the al-Hol refugee camp in the north-east of the country. Hailing from France, Tunisia, Sweden and Russia, now prisoners of the Kurdish-led forces, they agreed to share their stories.

Some show no signs of remorse and continue to defend the cause of terrorism and Islamist fundamentalism. This rare direct testimony is chilling and sometimes shocking.

But this is the reality today in Syria, along with the related question: what should become of these women? Most want to return to their country of origin, where justice awaits them – some have already been tried and convicted in absentia. So how should these women be treated? Should their countries of origin take them back? This complex and highly sensitive political issue needs to be resolved as the Kurds are struggling to cope with the already vast number of genuine refugees.

FRANCE 24's Mayssa Awad on meeting jihadi brides in Syria

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