Uzbekistan repatriates 93 women, children from Syrian camp


TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan on Friday brought back 24 women and 69 children who had been staying at the Al-Hol camp in Syria with other families of Islamic State fighters, the Central Asian nation's government said, its fifth airlift of this kind.

Kurdish fighters have seized much of northern and eastern Syria from Islamic State and have since held thousands of militants in prisons, while their wives and children - numbering tens of thousands - are living in camps in conditions officials describe as deplorable.

"Among those women are those who were forced to remarry repeatedly as their husbands died in armed conflict," the government said in a statement.

In previous such operations, Tashkent repatriated 438 women and children who had ended up in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan together with their husbands or fathers.

Thousands of people from the predominantly Muslim Central Asia, where Uzbekistan is the most populous nation, are believed to have joined Islamic State, with men often bringing their families along.

(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov. Writing by Olzhas Auyezov. Editing by Mark Potter)

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