Brussels: Ten Belgian children and six mothers have been recovered from a prison camp for captured jihadists in Syria and are being flown home, AFP learnt on Friday from a source with knowledge of the case. The operation is the biggest such repatriation since the battlefield defeat of the Islamic State militant group in 2019, and follows a decision by Belgium to secure the return of under-12s. The group is from the camp in Roj, in northeast Syria, where surviving suspected members of the group are being held under the supervision of Kurdish militia. Hundreds of volunteer fighters from Europe travelled to Syria and Iraq during the IS group’s campaign. Many died but others, including women and children, are trapped in camps. Their presence has proven an embarrassment for many European governments, reluctant to allow citizens with suspected extremist ties to return to their homelands. But Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced in March that his country would do what it could to secure the return of the youngest, describing this as a matter of national security. Belgium’s extremism monitoring agency OCAM judges that the mothers and children who have spent time in the camps need to be kept under watch and that this is easier if they are on Belgian soil. Once they are returned, the mothers are expected to be arrested and charged by anti-terrorism authorities, while the children will be taken in charge by social services. Neither de Croo’s office nor the anti-terror prosecutor’s office were ready to comment but a news conference may be held on Saturday once the arrivals are safely in custody.