Legal challenge lodged to allow French jihadists' children into France

Grandparents of two young children stranded with their French jihadist mother at a camp in Kurdish-held Syria filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on Monday challenging France’s refusal to allow the children home, lawyers said.

It was the latest challenge to the French government’s opposition to returning the children of suspected jihadists in Syria or Iraq.

The four-year-old boy and three-year-old girl, who were born in Syria, are among an estimated 500 children of French citizens who joined the Islamic State group’s so-called “caliphate” before the jihadists’ last Syrian redoubt was overrun in March.

France has said it will consider requests for their return on a case-by-case basis only. Since March it has repatriated just five orphans and a three-year-old girl whose mother was sentenced to life in prison in Iraq.

“Are we judging children? Are we charging them with something? Have they committed a crime, a misdemeanor? Have they decided to join the Islamic State? Have these kids, three quarters of whom are under six years old, committed such wrongdoing that France would decide to let them perish and die in camps?” asked Marie Dosé, a lawyer representing the family of the detained woman.

FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago and Roméo Langlois report.