A judge in Belgium has ordered the government to repatriate six children of ISIS fighters and their mothers from Syria.
The children, all aged under six, are currently in a refugee camp under control of Kurdish forces in the northeast of the war-torn country.
Brussels has so far resisted calls to intervene but on Wednesday national news agency Belga reported that the Flemish-speaking Court of First Instance had ordered the government to take "all necessary and possible measures" to return them. It must do so within 40 days or face fines of 5,000 euros a day per child.
The children’s mothers, Tatiana Wielandt, 26, and Bouchra Abouallal, 25, are both Belgian citizens and were married to ISIS militants fighting in Syria. After their husbands disappeared, they were locked up in the Al Hawl camp near the Iraqi border.
Wielandt and Abouallal were sentenced to five years in prison in absentia by a court in Antwerp earlier this year for participating in terrorist activities.
The two women have made it known that they want to return to Belgium to face their punishment rather than remaining in Syria.
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Since the downfall of ISIS in most of Syria and Iraq, European nationals fighting with extremist forces are beginning to make their way home.
Governments are worried that the returning fighters will encourage further extremist attacks on European soil.
European nations have argued that they cannot intervene in an area where Kurdish rule is not internationally recognised.
However, the Kurds said they cannot take responsibility for 584 women and 1,250 children in their zone.
In Belgium, where more than 400 adults are thought to have left the country to join ISIS or Al Qaeda since 2013, the government is reluctant to take back children of fighters.
Human rights groups say there are around 160 Belgian minors trapped in Syria in need of assistance from the Belgian state.