Kosovan intelligence returns 8-year-old held in Syria
PRISTINA - Anadolu Agency
Erion Zena hugs his mother Pranvera Abazi during their reunion at Kosovo's main airport upon his return to Kosovo's capital Pristina, Oct. 15. AA PhotoAn eight-year-old Kosovan boy has been returned to his mother after spending five months in areas of Syria controlled by armed militant groups.
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said in a Twitter post late Oct. 16 that the country's Intelligence Agency had "localized, found and organized the repatriation" of Erion Zena to Kosovo.
He said the operation was "complicated and dangerous," and thanked Turkey's National Intelligence Organization "for supporting us in the action to release Erion from this captivity in Syria." He did not give any further details.
The boy's mother Pranvera Zena told local TV station Kohavisi that she has been waiting for the day she could see him again for months.
"I'm too happy that I'm with my son now and hope to be always together," she said.
Pranvera has regularly spoken out against the father for taking the child without her permission, organizing a Facebook campaign to demand his return.
She has said that Arben Zena told her he would take his son on a holiday to the Kosovan mountains, but instead went to Albania, from where they flew to a third country and crossed the Syrian border to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In a separate statement, President Atifete Jahjaga appealed to all Kosovans not to join military groups in Syria or Iraq.
According to Kosovan media, around 100 of the country's nationals are believed to have gone to Syria and Iraq to join the ISIL and al-Nusra militant groups.
In August, Kosovo police arrested 40 men returning to the country having fought for the two groups.