After years of waiting for his son to come home from Syria, Jacques Le Brun is cautiously hoping that day may be nearing — along with the chance to meet three grandchildren who have never seen France. “He’ll certainly go to prison, and he knows that. He probably even deserves it a little,” Le Brun says at the family home in Labastide-Rouairoux, a village tucked in a forested valley of southern France. The important thing, he says, is that Quentin makes it home alive after taking his wife and infant daughter in 2014 to join the Daesh group in Syria — where he later appeared in a chilling Deash propaganda video burning his passport. About six weeks ago Le Brun learned that his son, now 30, was stranded near the Euphrates river in the last pocket of Daesh-held territory, besieged by Kurdish forces and targeted by coalition airstrikes. Then last month reporters from the magazine Paris Match found Quentin and his family as they were surrendering, raising the possibility they could be among the roughly 130 French nationals who may soon be repatriated to France from Kurd-controlled prison camps in northern Syria. The government is weighing the move after President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw US troops from the war-torn country. More than 100 French nationals who joined Daesh may soon return to France That prompted fears of a security vacuum in the north of Syria, in particular if Kurdish forces abandoned their surveillance of the captured fighters to defend against a potential assault by Turkey, which considers the Kurds a terrorist threat. For Quentin’s family, along with dozens of others across France, it’s a chance to be reunited after years of anxiety over his fate. “Our life has changed,” said his sister, asking not to be identified by name. “Before we woke up each morning wondering if they were alive. It was hell.” French government sources say 70 to 80 children are among the citizens being held by Kurdish forces, and around 15 women — half of whom are considered “dangerous.” An additional 250 men, as well as accompanying wives and children, are thought to be elsewhere in Syria. An estimated 300 French extremists are thought to have been killed during the years-long coalition fight to eradicate Daesh’s self-proclaimed caliphate. France had long insisted that captured French fighters must be tried locally, either in Syria or Iraq, a hard-line stance which nodded to fears that returned fighters could stage attacks on French soil upon their release from prison. Published in Daily Times, February 11th 2019.