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Thursday 10 January 2019

47 Kazakh Citizens Evacuated from Syria

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ALMATY (RFE/RL Kazakh service) — Kazakhstan says dozens of its citizens, including children, have been evacuated from Syria after being held “hostage” in the country. Security services say that hundreds of Kazakhs have joined up with militant groups in Syria since 2011.

“On January 6 this year […] 47 citizens of Kazakhstan, including 30 children, were evacuated from Syria”, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev said on January 9. “They were deceived into going to this country in crisis where they were held hostage by terrorists”, Nazarbaev said. “We will continue to work on the return of children who [were taken to] a combat zone against their will”, he added.

Thousands of people from other Central Asian countries and the Caucasus have travelled to Syria to join militant groups since civil war broke out there in 2011. In 2014, Kazakh authorities blocked media outlets that shared footage of an Islamic State (IS) group propaganda video showing Kazakh child soldiers training.

Kazakhstan has hosted a series of talks on Syria brokered by Iran, Russia, and Turkey since the beginning of 2017.

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