LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – Wives and children of former Islamist insurgents in Syria who are Bosnian citizens will return home to Bosnia this weekend, its presidency chairman Zeljko Komsic said on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Bosnian citizens are believed to have left Europe to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and many are now in detention camps waiting to be handed over to their countries of origin.
“This week the return of 24 citizens of Bosnia is expected…, namely women and children of former fighters in Syria…This is a humane act, these are our people who stayed there,” Komsic told reporters during a visit to Slovenia.
He said some children coming back were orphans, and that Bosnian authorities had done security checks on all returnees.
In October, Bosnia’s security minister said the country was preparing to take back and try nine of its nationals suspected of fighting for Islamic State in Syria.
Their return was postponed after Turkey launched a military incursion into northeast Syria to fight Kurdish militia.
Under Bosnia’s criminal code, citizens who leave to fight in foreign wars must be prosecuted under terrorism charges.
Bosnia’s state court has tried and convicted 46 people who returned from Syria or Iraq over the past few years. Islamic State lost its last territorial foothold in Syria in March of this year and many of its militants are now believed to be in Kurdish-run prisons in northern Syria.
(Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Mark Heinrich)