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Finnish woman wants to return from IS stronghold: International media

International news media reported encountering a woman who claimed to be Finnish and living in an Islamic State-controlled area.

Tuhannet ihmiset ovat viime päivinä paenneet viimeisiltä Isisin hallussa olleilta alueilta Baghouzissa Syyrian itäosassa lähellä Irakin rajaa.
In recent days, thousands of people have fled Isis strongholds in Baghouz in eastern Syria close to the border with Iraq. Image: Bulent Kilic / AFP

A journalist writing on Twitter on Wednesday said that he had encountered a Finnish woman living in an area in Syria controlled by the extremist organisation Islamic State.

Kurdish affairs analyst and journalist Mutlu Civiroglu tweeted that the woman came to Syria four years ago, lived in several different cities and married twice. He added that she had a 13-year-old daughter, who was also married.

Civiroglu claimed that the woman said she wanted to return to Finland because life here is easier and that she wanted to live as a Muslim in Finland.

The US 24-hour news channel CNN also reported on a Finnish woman who had lived in Islamic State-controlled areas in Syria and wanted to return to Finland.

A woman going by the name "Sanna" told the channel in an interview that four years ago, she travelled to Syria with her husband, a Moroccan plumber, and then converted to Islam.

"At first life was good, but then the war destroyed that life, not Isis," Sanna told CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman.

"Yes, I do want to return to Finland. I really do. Absolutely, I do, I do," she declared in the interview.

However in the brief interview, Sanna did not say what had happened to her husband or whether or not she had other family members in Syria. She also did not speak about possible ties to Isis.

Status of Isis fighters' wives and children uncertain

Australian national broadcaster ABC also featured an interview with a Finnish woman who had been in IS territory for four and a half years, and who gave her name as Sanna. The woman said that she was originally from Helsinki.

According to Sanna, she came to Syria with her family and had four children. She told ABC that she expected to be put in prison in Finland.

In recent days, thousands of people have fled Isis strongholds in Baghouz, eastern Syria, close to the border with Iraq.

The exodus includes many IS fighters’ wives and children, whose futures are uncertain. Some of the best known of them include the widow of French jihadist Jean-Michel Clain, who has been linked with terror attacks in Paris.

Clain’s wife was also interviewed by Wedeman and she said that both her husband and brother-in-law had been killed in battle and that she has also lost three children in the fighting.

"I don’t want to return to France because the French have killed my family and I will end up in prison," she said.

Finnish citizens may return

Two weeks ago Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen said that Finland would not encourage people who left the country to fight with Isis to return home.

However Finland’s basic policy is that Isis fighters with Finnish citizenship can return home.

The minister said that when such a situation arises, Finnish authorities will prepare for the return of people who have been embedded in terrorist organisations.

"Before [an individual] is relocated to Finland, we will ensure that the threshold for investigating them is very low, if they are suspected of crimes [committed] in the conflict area," Mykkänen commented.

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