Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Belgium denies reports of foreign fighter repatriation plans

The Belgian government has firmly denied reports in the British daily ‘The Guardian’ that it plans to repatriate Belgian foreign fighters from Northern Syria. Since the start of the Turkish offensive in Kurdish held areas of Northern Syria, 5 Belgian adults and their six children have escaped from a detention camp where IS terrorists, they families and sympathisers of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” were being held by the Kurds. 

‘The Guardian’ reported that on Friday Belgian officials had informed the families of the Belgian nationals in Northern Syria that the current cease fire there will be used to repatriate Belgian nationals that have links to the terrorist group IS. Using his prefferd communication method, the US President Donald Trump tweeted that some European countries wanted to repatriate their nationals that have links to IS.  

However, the Belgian government sources firmly denies the reports and add that the position on Belgian IS foreign fighters has not changed. Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry refuses to comment. 

55 Belgian foreign fighters?

The body that analyses the threat posed to Belgium through terrorism OCAD says that currently 55 Belgian nationals, 35 men and 20 women, in the region that pose a potential risk to national security. 3 of the 55 are currently in Iraq.

In addition to the 55 adults there are also 69 Belgian children, most of whom under 5 there. Up until now 5 adults and 6 children have already escaped. However, OCAD believes that it is highly unlikely, but “not impossible” that they or any other Belgian foreign fighters would be able to return to Belgium unnoticed.