Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov outlined the details of the operation to retrieve the family in a post on his official Instagram account.
"Another operation to save Russian citizens from Syria and Iraq was successful," Kadyrov wrote. "On Friday night, an airplane flying from Istanbul, Turkey landed at the Grozny airport. Among the passengers were two young natives of Chechnya, ten-year-old Islam and eight-year-old Tanzila. They had been taken to war-torn Syria by their father, who joined the ranks of the Daesh terrorists in 2015. This criminal recklessness could well have cost the children their lives…By the will of Allah, our efforts were crowned with success, and the children were returned to their homeland. They are now completely safe."
Kadyrov thanked President Putin and everyone else involved in the ongoing effort to rescue children from the former Daesh-held territories. "We have repeatedly said that our work will continue until all our innocent compatriots who are in trouble in Syria or Iraq are saved," he stressed.
The Chechen-backed rescue effort began in August, after Kadyrov was made aware of a report by RT from a Baghdad children's shelter featuring Russian children whose parents had joined Daesh and then abandoned their kin after Mosul was liberated by the Iraqi army. Reposting the report on his Instagram account in hopes of finding the children's relatives, Kadyrov met with success, and five-year old boy Bilal was safely returned to his mother.
In 2014 and 2015, at the height of the so-called Daesh caliphate's power, Islamists from at least 86 countries traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the terrorists, often taking unwilling family members with them. Earlier this year, President Putin estimated, citing intelligence reports, that at least 4,000 Russians and another 5,000 citizens of former Soviet republics were fighting in Daesh's ranks.
The Russian security services have been engaged in a comprehensive campaign to track and arrest returning jihadists, and to uncover Daesh plots inside the country. On Friday, the Federal Security Service foiled a terror plot by a Daesh affiliate in St. Petersburg, detaining 7 terror plotters who planned to carry out several terrorist attacks across the city.