American girl taken by dad to Syria is returning home to US
WASHINGTON (AP) — A teenage American girl who says her father spirited her to Syria against her will several years ago is now with U.S. authorities and will be returned home, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The officials would not identify the girl by name, but said she was the same one interviewed by CBS News earlier this month. The network quoted her saying that her father supported the Islamic State group and took her to Syria five years ago.
The officials said U.S.-allied Syrian forces recently turned her over to the American military and she’s now in State Department custody in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
CBS News interviewed the girl near Raqqa, Syria, where she was with a group of women who recently escaped Islamic State territory. The teen told CBS she was from Kansas and that her father had been killed. She said she had been kept prisoner.
Islamic State militants had controlled Raqqa until they were ousted from the city by U.S.-backed Syrian forces in October.
One U.S. official said the girl was forced to marry a Syrian man and is pregnant. The official said her husband died in a coalition airstrike.
The U.S. officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter and requested anonymity.
In her interview with CBS, the girl said she thought her mother was still in the United States.
The Pentagon released a statement saying only that “U.S. forces recently relocated a minor from Syria safely to Iraq.”
The State Department would only say the U.S. stands ready to assist those in need, including through providing safe return to the United States.
“We strongly warn against traveling to Syria,” the State Department said. “There is serious risk of kidnappings, bombings, murder and terrorism. We have no further information to offer at this time.”
Associated Press writer Josh Lederman contributed to this report.