Daesh-linked Albanian child arrives home to Italy from Syria camp

The Italian public has been avidly following he story of 11-year-old Alvin, born in Italy to Albanian parents, since it emerged last month he was living in a Kurdish-held camp in northeastern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2019

Daesh-linked Albanian child arrives home to Italy from Syria camp

  • The Italian public has been avidly following the story of 11-year-old Alvin
  • A media report aired in October showed the emotional reunion between the boy and his father in the Al-Hol camp housing thousands of family members of suspected Daesh fighter

ROME: An Albanian boy taken by his mother to join the Daesh group in Syria returned to his home in Italy on Friday, in the first such operation coordinated with Damascus.
“Little Alvin Berisha has arrived at Fiumicino (Rome) airport where he was reunited with his father and sister,” Italian police said in a statement.
The Italian public has been avidly following the story of 11-year-old Alvin, who was born in Italy to Albanian parents, since it emerged last month he was living in a Kurdish-held camp in northeastern Syria.
The Albanian boy’s mother was killed in fighting, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
A media report aired in October showed the emotional reunion between the boy and his father in the Al-Hol camp housing thousands of family members of suspected Daesh fighters.
An IFRC spokesman said on Thursday that an Albanian boy was on his way back from Al-Hol to his father in Italy.
“This started five years ago with the mother kidnapping the child, and deciding to go and fight for IS,” Tommaso Della Longa told AFP.
“We discovered through a message from Al-Hol camp that the boy was still alive.”
After years of fighting, Syria’s Kurds hold thousands of suspected foreign Daesh members in detention camps: men and women, but also some 8,000 children — more than half of whom are under the age of five.
The United Nations says hundreds of them are unaccompanied.
With the backing of Italian and Albanian authorities and after negotiations in the Syrian capital, the IFRC was handed over the Albanian child on Wednesday in the first such repatriation via Damascus.
“Our Syrian Red Crescent volunteers escorted the boy from Al-Hol to Damascus,” Della Longa said.
International powers have warned of mass Daesh breakouts from Al-Hol, as well as other Kurdish-run camps and jails, in the wake of a deadly Turkish cross-border offensive on October 9.
The Albanian boy’s return home is the first such known handover since the start of the attack, which has seen Syria’s Kurds cosy up to Damascus after years of seeking semi-autonomy.
The Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called for Western countries to repatriate their nationals linked to Daesh, but they have been largely reluctant.
Austria, Germany, France and Belgium, however, have brought a handful of orphans home, while the United States has repatriated several women and their children.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kosovo have repatriated dozens of women and children.


Russia reports 16,550 new coronavirus cases in past 24 hours

Updated 27 October 2020

Russia reports 16,550 new coronavirus cases in past 24 hours

  • Authorities said 320 people had died in the last 24 hours

MOSCOW: Russia recorded 16,550 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including 4,312 in Moscow, pushing the national tally to 1,547,774.
Authorities said 320 people had died in the last 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 26,589.