Four Albanian children and a woman, all of whom had been held in refugee camps of jihadists’ family members in Syria have entered Lebanon, from which they will be repatriated to their home country.
The five Albanians passed through Damascus then crossed the Lebanese border before heading to a hotel in Beirut in preparation for their departure to Albania.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama landed in Beirut earlier for the Tuesday-scheduled repatriation of the woman and the children after their rescue from Syria was secured by the Albanian government.
“We are in the process of repatriating four Albanian children from the hell of the Al-Hol camp tomorrow to Albania, thanks to a really complicated operation and after more than a year of efforts,” Rama previously said in a Facebook post on Monday.
“The operation is in two phases after endless secret negotiations took place. With God’s help, we will have four children and an injured mother,” the official later told Albania’s Top Channel.
The rescued Albanians had been trapped in refugee camps in Syria for years. The Albanian government hopes that, in the second phase of the operation, more children will be repatriated.
Since the start of the Syrian Civil War, nearly 51 Albanian children have been trapped in Syria after their parents joined ISIS (Daesh) or other jihadist groups fighting in the war.
Over 100 Albanians are estimated to have participated in fighting for militant groups in the devastated country since the war erupted in 2011.