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Kazakhstan says scores of children evacuated from Syria

May 11, 2019

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan said Friday it had evacuated 231 of its citizens, most of them children, from Syria after they travelled or were taken there to join the Islamic State group.

Thousands from Muslim-majority Kazakhstan, other Central Asian nations and Russia’s Caucasus have travelled to Syria to fight with jihadists since war broke out there in 2011. The operation to repatriate 156 children and 75 adults took place between May 7 and May 9, Kazakhstan’s presidency said in a statement, without providing details.

The evacuation follows a similar operation in January that saw 43 Kazakhs returned to the country, some of whom were subsequently arrested for extremism-related crimes.

But in the statement on Friday, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev characterised the earlier operation as a success. “Women abandoned their radical past, got a job, restored ties with relatives.