She added: “The camps with the majority of foreign women and children have not yet been reached by fighting and remain under the control of the Kurdish authorities. The time to act is now.”
Save the Children said its staff in Syria had recently spoken to a British mother with two young children – a baby and a child under five – in one of the camps. She told the charity she knew of at least 15 other British children in the same camp.
On Saturday Whitehall sources confirmed the government was working with “various agencies” in north-east Syria – believed to include the International Committee of the Red Cross – to kickstart the process of transferring children of British parents linked to Isis back to the UK.
Among the first cases identified are three orphans believed to have travelled to Syria with their parents from London five years ago and who are currently in Raqqa, under the control of the Kurdish-dominated militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Last week the Guardian reported on efforts by Belgium and other European states to begin preparing to evacuate citizens accused of having links to Isis from detention camps in north-east Syria through a newly declared “safe zone” being carved out by Turkish forces along the border.
Belgian officials informed family members of detainees held in two camps on Friday that they would attempt to take advantage of a five-day ceasefire to retrieve nationals allegedly tied to the terror group.
Turkey wants to clear the area of SDF soldiers, who had spearheaded the fight against Isis. It regards Kurdish fighters as proxies for the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), which has waged a 35-year insurgency against the Turkish state.
Trump’s move prompted fears that the ensuing vacuum could lead to a collapse of security at the four main camps for Isis detainees and their families. Kurdish guards have already abandoned one detention centre, allowing up to 800 detainees, among them Isis members, to walk out.
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