Kosovo brought back 110 of its citizens from Syria on Saturday including jihadists who had gone to fight in the country’s civil war and 74 children, the government said.
After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return.
The population of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but largely secular in outlook.
More than 300 Kosovo citizens have traveled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.
“Today in the early hours of the morning an important and sensitive operation was organized in which the government of Kosovo with the help of the United States of America has returned 110 of its citizens from Syria,” Kosovan Justice Minister Abelard Tahiri said at a press conference.
Tahiri did not specify what role the United States had played but a plane with a U.S. flag on its tail was seen in the cargo area of Pristina airport as the operation was ongoing.
Authorities said among those who were returned were four fighters, 32 women and 74 children, including nine without a parent.
The four fighters were immediately arrested and the state prosecutor said indictments against them will soon follow.
After several hours at the airport, two busloads of women and children were transported under police escort to an army barracks just outside Pristina.