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    Syria. Terrorist-controlled eastern Aleppo districts as seen from the city's Citadel.

    To Protect France From Repatriated Jihadists, Let Damascus Judge Them - Analyst

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    The French Foreign Ministry has confirmed the BFM TV reports of at least 130 French citizens, previously members of Daesh, expected to be released from jail in Syria and repatriated to France. Sputnik has discussed the risks of the decision with international relations expert Xavier Moreau.

    SPUTNIK: The French interior ministry has recently announced that French jihadists jailed by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria could soon be repatriated. What do you think of the Elysee allowing French foreign fighters to return home?

    Xavier Moreau: If these people have committed crimes in Syria, they should be sent to court in Syria, in Damascus, not in France, because they have committed crimes in Syria. The point is that Paris doesn't want to recognise that they lost the war against Syria, and that it's their mission to bring all these terrorist people to court. This is my opinion.

    And there is another point: who will be delivering these prisoners? Because they are in the hands of the Kurdish army, but I guess they will deliver these prisoners to the French army — but the French army is illegally present on the Syrian territory.

    So the first thing to do, for the French government, is to leave the Syrian territory, because there's no right to be here: they have not been invited by [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, and there is no UN decision, one by the Security Council, to send some French troops to Syria. So everything is linked to the fact that the French presence on the Syrians' territory is not legal, from the international point of view.

    READ MORE: US Expects to Recapture Syrian Territories Held by Daesh Within Weeks — Official

    SPUTNIK: Speaking of the legal implications of the repatriation of jihadists, French ones, in this case — we do know that they voluntarily joined a terrorist group, supported and fought for it in the Levant; we know many of them who already returned to France carried out attacks there, and potentially continue to threaten the French. So what legal consequences will these French prisoners face once they've come back from Syria?

    Xavier Moreau: How are we going to judge them? There is no base for us to do so. […]

    So there is no reason for us to judge these people. And don't forget that the lawyer working for the jihadists** who have already been taken said, "We have just followed the recommendation of Minister [of Foreign Affairs and International Development] Laurent Fabius, who said that Assad didn't deserve being on Earth," so they did exactly what the French Prime Minister told them to do. If you take, for instance, what happened to some terrorists, [the prison sentence they might face] could be 20, 25 years.

    READ MORE: ‘Impossible’ Ex-French FM Was Unaware of Firm’s Daesh Links in Syria — Analyst

    But, first of all, again, we need to find evidence. Who will provide such evidence against these people? We can't condemn them. So that's exactly the problem we have, that we don't know how to judge them; it would be very difficult to find some evidence to condemn them, because the only thing that could be used against them is deciding they took weapons against legal power.

    So the only thing to do to protect the French people is to leave them in Syria and let them be judged by Damascus — and they should be punished by Damascus' power. This is the best way to bring them to justice.

    READ MORE: Daesh Militants Transfered From Pakistan to Tajikistan — Russian Official

    SPUTNIK: How have the French reacted to the foreign ministry's statement to repatriate potentially dangerous individuals?

    Xavier Moreau: The right opposition is fully against this. From the right to the far-right, they are all against this decision of [French President Emmanuel] Macron's government.

    You have to understand that this is exactly [mirroring] the context of the yellow jackets, as the French government uses a very, very aggressive and violent response to this popular movement, and actually, the right opposition would like that the French government to be stronger against terrorist and sweeter with the yellow jackets. It's a very bad context for Macron's government.

    Views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of Xavier Moreau and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


    *Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) and Al-Nusra Front (also known as al-Qaeda in Syria), are terrorist groups banned in Russia

    ** According to documents, the jihadist's lawyer said that "after the alleged 2013 chemical attack in Syria, France wanted to start a war. These videos have been distributed in the thousands. The repressions were carried out by Bashar al-Assad, not by Daesh or Jabhat an-Nusra. France asked the United States to be on its side. Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, spoke about Bashar Assad, explaining that he ‘does not deserve to be on Earth’”. The lawyer's colleague separately pointed out that in March 2013, a judge specialising in combating terrorism (Marc Trevidic) even spoke of "permitted jihad".

    Related:

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Thanks Russia for Help in Fighting Daesh Terrorists
    France to Repatriate 130 Daesh Fighters Detained in Syria - Report
    US Expects to Recapture Syrian Territories Held by Daesh Within Weeks - Official
    Daesh Militants Transfered From Pakistan to Tajikistan - Russian Official
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    Daesh, Emmanuel Macron, Syria, France
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