‘All I’ve got’

‘We’re not animals’: French mothers who fled ISIS are ready to come home

Two French women, who fled the Islamic State group's last holdout in Syria, sit with their children at al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria on February 17, 2019. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Two French women detained by Kurdish fighters in Syria after fleeing ISIS said they would like to return home, but only if the French government agrees not to take their remaining children and put them in foster homes.

Speaking to the AFP, the two women said that they became disillusioned with life under ISIS after witnessing the group “[execute] lots of people for nothing, without proof — even Muslims.” But their desire to return home, they said, was tempered by fear of criminal prosecution for their defection to the terrorist state — and concern that the government would take their children from them.

One of the women, a 29-year-old from Lyon, said she lost two children aged 2 and 6 during a bombardment of ISIS-held territory. Her husband, she claimed, held a civilian job before being killed. “We’re not animals,” she said. “We’re human beings … We have a heart, we have a soul.”

She declined to denounce deadly ISIS terror attacks in France, but said that she harbored no desire for revenge and that ISIS fighters had threatened her and other women with murder and rape.

“I’ve had my children killed. It’s not tomorrow that I’m going to go and kill someone,” she said. “They’ll rip our kids away from us, put them in homes and foster families. They’ll be separated from each other and grow up (with values) against the education we want to give them … There are lots of things in France against our religion — homosexuality, for example.”

The other woman, who is in her thirties, said she fled ISIS earlier this month with her three children and husband, who has since been detained.

“We didn’t agree [with ISIS],” she said, “but we couldn’t say anything.” She said she knew that she would likely face trial if she returned home, but that she was hopeful for a short, commutable prison sentence that would allow her to still see her children. “They’re all I’ve got.”

Read the full story at Al Jazeera.

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