U.S. Repatriates 11 American Citizens From ISIS War Camps in Syria

The Biden administration has repatriated a family of 10 American citizens who had been stranded for years in desert camps and detention centers in Syria run by a Kurdish-led militia that battled the Islamic State, according to officials.

The government also brought to the United States a pair of half brothers — only one of whom, said to be 7, is an American citizen. The resettlement of the other boy, who is said to be 9, is the first time the United States has taken in someone from the war zone who is not an American national.

The government announced the early Tuesday transfer in a statement from Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who said that there had been a “complex repatriation and resettlement” involving 11 American citizens, five of whom were minors, and the “9-year-old non-U.S. citizen sibling of one of the U.S. citizen minors.”

He added: “This is the largest single repatriation of U.S. citizens from northeast Syria to date.”

The statement announcing the transfer did not identify the 12 people. But two officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details, said 10 were a family The New York Times had reported on in September, consisting of a woman named Brandy Salman and her nine American-born children, ranging from about 6 to about 25.

The other two, the officials said, are the sons — one biological and one adopted — of a man named Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, who was repatriated in 2020 and has pleaded guilty to charges of supporting terrorism. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis reported this month that his two young sons had been found and would soon arrive in Minnesota to be raised by his parents.

The aftermath of the collapse of the ISIS caliphate — which has continued to carry out terrorist attacks after losing control of its former territory — has led to a festering problem in northeastern Syria, where tens of thousands of people remain effectively imprisoned in the custody of the Kurdish-led militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces.

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