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Rudaw

Syria

Fleeing ISIS holdout, French women say foreigners still inside

By AFP 11/2/2019
Women and children fleeing from the last Islamic State group's tiny pocket in Syria sit in the back of a truck near Baghouz, eastern Syria, on February 11, 2019. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP
Women and children fleeing from the last Islamic State group's tiny pocket in Syria sit in the back of a truck near Baghouz, eastern Syria, on February 11, 2019. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP
By Maya Gebeily and Margaux Bergey

NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria - Two French women who fled the Islamic State group's last pocket in Syria told AFP on Monday more foreigners were trapped inside, barred from leaving by Iraqi jihadists.

The Muslim converts said they paid smugglers to take them out of the battered ISIS-held holdout of Baghouz to territory held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

They said "massacres" had taken place in Baghouz, where others are still trapped with "nothing to eat."

"There are many French, many muhajireen (foreign women who joined ISIS) and others who are trying to leave but they (ISIS) don't let us," said one.

"They said only the Syrians and Iraqis can be smuggled out," said the woman, who said her first name was Christelle, from the city of Bordeaux.

She spoke to AFP from the back of a pickup truck packed with women and wailing children who would be taken to Kurdish-run prison camps in northern Syria.

Her two children, one and three, were laying on her lap, but she said her husband had died.

"What do I ask the French government? Just let me keep my kids. I just want my kids," she said.

France has said it is considering repatriating around 130 of its nationals currently held by Kurdish authorities in Syria, but Christelle was not keen to go home.

"I would prefer to return to a different country where there is more Islam. We can't practise our religion (fully) in France," she said.

Like everyone else in the truck, Christelle kept her black veil on but her skeletal, dirty hands were visible. She wore a cheap-looking silver ring.

She told AFP that she converted to Islam and entered Syria in 2014 "for religion."

Initially happy under the group, she now felt "tricked."

"Propaganda. 'Come to us, look at this beautiful life.' We were robbed," she said.

- No return? -

"Of course we regret it. We lost everything by coming here," adding sourly of ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: "His family isn't being massacred in there."

She said she had never seen Baghdadi or senior French jihadists Jean-Michel and Fabien Clain, all of whom are still at large.

But, she claimed, the group's Iraqi leadership "left a long time ago."

"Daesh is Iraqis. It's not an Islamic state, it's an Iraqi state," she said, using a Arabic acronym for ISIS.


Women and children displaced from Deir ez-Zor sit in the back of a truck after they fled ISIS near Baghouz, eastern Syria, on February 11, 2019. Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP

A second French woman who escaped and was aboard the same truck said she also hoped to keep her two remaining children with her -- but not necessarily in France.

"They don't let us live our religion (to the full) in France. We have no rights. You cannot wear the niqab," she said of the full veil.

She kept hers on during the interview, with only her pale blue eyes visible.

Also a Muslim convert, she said she left France in 2012 because of pressure by French authorities to assimilate or leave.

"So we left," she said frankly.

About 10 other trucks packed with fleeing civilians were parked on a plain outside of Baghouz.

Locals driving the trucks said a total of 18 foreigners were among the dozens of civilians there on Monday, including Russians, Turks, and Ukrainians.

Journalists clamoured over the edges of the trucks to find non-Arabs among the fleeing civilians, shouting "France? France?"

Closer to the front, coalition troops were seen standing over about two dozen men who were suspected ISIS fighters.

Comments

 
Leon | 12/2/2019
No! Daesh is Islamic not Iraqi. This women is blatantly lying to everyone. She is using the culture argument for apologetics reasons to protect her psychotic religion from criticism. She is a jihadi whore and deserves not a single atom’s worth of respect. To hell with her, takeher kids and raise them up under secular morals avoiding the growth of jihadis. She knew exactly what she was getting herself into, she is a grown woman so she needs to stop using Taqqiyah.
Lemon_Kurd | 12/2/2019
French Women ?? More foreigners ?? OHHHHHHHHH u mean Daesh.. right and who cares ?? They're not trapped as the mothers of the cubs of the caliphate would tell u.. they are making a final stand.. As for these "French women", do they want us to feel sorry for them? were they just innocent French women that ended up in Syria by accident?? Are they even French still?? I am sure as women of the caliphate they looked after our Yazidi Brothers and Sisters?? Anyone who has any type of sympathy for these inhumans is Daesh sympathiser, I only feel sorry for their kids, being born into a fantasy caliphate to recluse fantasist parents is not their fault, they were born to inhuman, recluse fantasists

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