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Albania repatriates 19 family members of dead ISIS fighters from Syria

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Albania has repatriated 14 children and five women whose fathers and husbands were killed fighting with the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Syria.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Interior Minister Bledi Cuci accompanied the Albanian nationals via Lebanon.

“It is a very positive event, I believe, and, of course, we shall not stop here,” said Rama at a news conference at Tirana international airport.

The 19 will be taken to a shelter in Durres where police and social experts will “make all the necessary medical and psychological examination, to be followed by a quarantine period,” after which some may be allowed to rejoin their families.

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Rama did not say whether the women would be prosecuted.

This is the third effort at repatriating Albanians from the fighting territories in Syria.

In October last year, five Albanians were repatriated, while a child returned to the country a year earlier.

A few hundred Albanian men joined the Islamic State and other groups fighting in Syria and Iraq in the early 2010s. Many were killed, and their wives and children are stuck in Syrian camps.

About 30 other children and women are believed to be in Syrian camps but Rama said that number is unclear, adding that two women had refused to get in contact for repatriation, fearing their lives.

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About two-thirds of Albania’s 2.85 million people are Muslims.

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