More than 350 Kazakh citizens still in Syria


ASTANA -- About 370 to 380 Kazakh nationals, mostly women, remain in Syria, a Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB) department chief said Thursday (January 10), according to Kazinform.

Terrorists recruit Kazakhs via the internet, said Bakhtybek Rakhymberdiyev, adding that on social media "recruiters say that all religious canons are observed" in Syria.

On Wednesday (January 9), the Kazakh government announced the evacuation of 47 Kazakhstani nationals from Syria by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry and law enforcement.

Six men and one woman among those evacuees are under investigation for suspected participation in terrorism, he said.

The evacuees included 30 children, 11 women and the six men, he said.

The returnees might face punishment in Kazakhstan if convicted of terrorism, but they will not lose citizenship because they "voluntarily stated their willingness to return", he said.

Iveta Grigule-Pēterse, a member of the European Parliament, commended the extraction operation, saying it showed high preparedness by Kazakh diplomats.

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