British child caught up in Islamic State conflict rescued from Syria

The UK has rescued a British child from Syria as part of efforts to help unaccompanied or orphaned minors caught up in the fallout from the conflict with Islamic State.

A repatriation team left Syria with the child on Tuesday, Sky News understands.

The rescue mission was led by Martin Longden, the UK’s Syria envoy.

Further details about the child’s identity cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Last year the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would take “the necessary and secure steps” to repatriate minors who are unaccompanied or whose parents have been killed.

“These are children who have experienced the worst horrors of war and bringing them home is the right thing to do,” he said in a statement.

The UK has already brought home a small number of British children from northeast Syria where thousands of men, women and infants from dozens of different countries have been held in camps since the collapse of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

It is understood that there are more British minors in these displacement camps.

Save the Children, a UK charity, said last year that as many as 60 British children might be stranded. But it is not clear how many of that number are on their own or how many are still with one or both parents.

The British government has so far resisted pressure to repatriate men and women – including suspected fighters – who travelled to Syria from the UK to join Islamic State but are now stuck in the camps or in crowded detention centres, guarded by Kurdish forces.

US President Donald Trump has long called on countries, including the UK, to take back their IS-linked nationals from Syria and prosecute or rehabilitate them back home.

It is a topic that might come up when Mr Raab meets with his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo, on Wednesday during a trip to Washington.

One of the most high-profile cases for the UK is of Shamima Begum, a London schoolgirl who joined Islamic State with two friends in 2015 when she was just 15.

She lived under IS rule before ending up last year at a displacement camp heavily pregnant, having already lost two other children. Her third child also died shortly after he was born.

Ms Begum’s British citizenship was revoked – a decision that she is challenging in a legal battle that is due to be heard by the UK’s highest court, the Supreme Court.

Another high-profile case is of two men from the UK who are accused of being part of an IS kidnap and hostage-killing group dubbed the Beatles.

The US is seeking to put Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh on trial. The men are currently being held by US forces in Iraq.

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