Swedish 16-year-old 'rescued from Isis in Kurdish special forces raid'

Kurdish authorities claim the girl was 'misled' by Isis recruiters and travelled to Mosul via Syria willingly. The Swedish foreign ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the report

Adam Withnall@adamwithnall
Tuesday 23 February 2016 14:31
A major Kurdish offensive at the end of last year pushed its front line within a few miles a Mosul, Isis's Iraqi stronghold
A major Kurdish offensive at the end of last year pushed its front line within a few miles a Mosul, Isis's Iraqi stronghold

Swedish authorities have refused to confirm or deny reports that a 16-year-old girl has been rescued from the Isis militant group - for the second time.

A statement from the Kurdish authorities, which identified the girl by name, said the Swedish national was rescued near Mosul in Iraq by Kurdish special forces in a raid on 17 February.

According to the Kurdistan Regional Security Council, the girl was “misled by an Isis member in Sweden to travel to Syria and later to Mosul” last year.

Speaking to The Independent, a spokesperson for the Swedish foreign ministry said authorities in Stockholm had “no information to give” relating to the case.

But various Swedish media outlets reported that the girl is believed to be the same as the pregnant teenager who was rescued from Isis captivity while eight months pregnant in October last year.

Details surrounding the two rescue attempts remain unclear, though it was reported at the time that she had travelled to Syria with her 19-year-old boyfriend.

The Kurds claimed they were “called upon” by Swedish authorities to facilitate the latest rescue mission, and that members of the girl's family in Boras, around 60km east of Gothenburg, were aware of the attempts to locate and rescue her.

The girl was being held and cared for in Kurdish territory, the statement released on Tuesday said. “She will be transferred to Swedish authorities to return home once necessary arrangements are put in place,” it added.

Swedish authorities have previously described the Gothenburg region as a hotbed for extremism. Terror expert Magnus Ranstorp said in late 2014 that of 150 Swedes believed to have travelled to join Isis, around a third were from the area.

Since then, the number of Swedes who have been recruited as foreign fighters for Isis is likely to have increased dramatically. The country is behind only Belgium among European and Western nations for its number of Isis foreign fighters per capita.

Last week, a 17-year-old girl from Linkoping, Sweden, was sentenced to a year in prison in Austria after being found guilty of trying to join Isis.

Police said a search of her phone showed she had praised the Paris terror attacks and was planning to meet with two other Swedish teens to head to Syria.

Despite Mosul being Isis's stronghold in Iraq, Kurdish forces have been lined up just a few miles away since the offensive to take back Sinjar last year. They are awaiting international and Iraqi government support for an offensive on the city itself.

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