Sweden arrests 2 women suspected of war crimes in Syria

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish authorities arrested two women from Sweden suspected of committing war crimes in Syria, the prosecutors office and local media said Tuesday, the first such arrests in the Scandinavian country.

According to a statement from the prosecutor’s office , three women from the territories once controlled by the Islamic State group arrived on Monday at the Stockholm airport. Two were arrested while a third one, who is not considered a suspect, was released after questioning.

Prosecutors Hanna Lemoine and Karolina Wieslander, in charge of the two cases, told Swedish news agency TT that the two arrested will be questioned further before the prosecution decides whether to formally charge them.

Swedish broadcaster SVT said one of the two women is also suspected of genocide and crimes against humanity.

TT said the Kurdish regional government in northeastern Syria — where the Islamic State group had set up the headquarters of its self-styled caliphate before its collapse in 2017 — decided in June to deport the women, who all had been part of IS and are Swedish citizens.

“We cannot or do not have the resources to bring them to justice,” Shiyar Ali, the Kurdish representative in the Nordic countries, told TT. “Just the fact that they have been part of a terrorist organization is frightening, considering what IS has committed.”

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Anne Linde told TT on Monday that Sweden, unlike other countries, had not brought back on its own initiative Swedish citizens who were part of IS in Syria.

“We have not repatriated the women,” Linde told TT. “It is a different matter when the Kurdish self-government decides to expel the women. Then we have a responsibility just like everyone else to receive our citizens.”

In March, a woman was sentenced to three years in prison in Sweden for taking her 2-year-old son to Syria in 2014, to an area that was then controlled by IS. The woman had allegedly told the child’s father that she and the boy were only going on a holiday to Turkey. However, once in Turkey, the two crossed into Syria and IS-run territory.

The woman later managed to escape to Turkey where she was arrested with her son and two other children she had given birth to in the meantime, while living with an IS fighter from Tunisia. She was extradited from Turkey to Sweden.

In neighboring Norway, a 30-year-old Norwegian woman who was repatriated by Norway from a refugee camp in Syria because her son was sick, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison by an Oslo court for participating in the Islamic State group.

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