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The European Court of Human Rights condemned France on Wednesday for refusing to repatriate two of its female citizens held after joining their Islamist partners in Syria.


French authorities should re-examine the request by the women’s parents to allow them to return home, the court said, saying there had not been sufficient reviews to ensure against “arbitrariness” of the refusal.

The case was filed by the parents of two French women who travelled to Syria, where the Islamic State group had taken control of large swaths of territory, and where they later had children with their jihadist husbands.

They are being held in the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria following their arrest after the fall of the so-called IS “caliphate,” the parents say, where malnutrition and disease is rife.

The parents say the lives of their daughters and grandchildren are at risk, and asked the European court to ensure their right to return home as nationals of a member state party to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The French government has long refused such a move, saying jihadist fighters and their families must face local justice.

The issue is hugely controversial in France, which has seen a wave of jihadist terror attacks since 2015 that have killed over 250 people.

Rights groups and Western allies including the United States have urged France to take back citizens being held in Syrian detention camps, but Paris argues that citizens who joined jihadist networks in Syria and Iraq would pose security risks if returned home.