Russian women who were held in Kurdish-controlled camps in Syria as Islamic State group supporters have recorded emotional appeals to President Vladimir Putin to help them return home.
The audio recordings released by RBK news website late Saturday were provided by Chechen rights ombudswoman Kheda Saratova, who has been involved in repatriating IS widows and children. It was not clear when they were made.
The women referred to two different camps holding alleged IS family members — Al-Hol in northeastern Syria and Ain Issa near the Turkish border.
Thousands of Russians joined IS forces in Syria and Iraq. Russia has repatriated some of the women and children.
“My request is to help me return home. I don’t want to go back to the IS,” says one woman, who gives her name as Yulia Kryukova from the city of Saint Petersburg, her voice breaking as she starts crying.
“I appeal to President Vladimir Putin, Kheda Saratova and Natalya Moskalkova,” she says, misnaming Russia’s rights ombudswoman Tatiana Moskalkova.
She says she fears she could be beaten up by other women in the Al Hol camp who still support the IS.
“They are very aggressive, they set fire to tents and beat up people, I don’t know what to do.”
Saratova told RBK that the women’s relatives had been in contact with her. She said the women had all travelled to Syria to live with IS fighter husbands who were later killed.
In the final recording, a woman who does not give her name, says she and other women have fled their camp and are on the road to Tal Abyad five kilometres (3 miles) away.
Since Kurdish fighters withdrew, Tal Abyad is under the control of Turkey and its Syrian proxies.
Saratova told RBK that the women in the recordings eventually fled their camps and reached a Turkish-controlled area where the military helped them.
Moskalkova told Echo of Moscow radio station on Sunday that she would ask Russia’s security service and foreign ministry and the Red Cross to help the women.
In the brief recordings, the women appeal to the Russian authorities to evacuate them.
“We have children, there is a state of war, what can we do?” says one woman, who does not give her name, weeping as she speaks.
“Why is it hard to take us away from here?