MORE than 60 children of British Islamic State (IS) fighters are stranded in Syria – double the number previously thought. British officials are now making moves toward repatriation.

Where are the children?

Save the Children say that the youngsters – the majority younger than five years old – are trapped in north-eastern Syria after fleeing IS-held areas. They are said to be enduring “dire conditions” in camps there. Many are British-born, with others born in the IS “caliphate”, but potentially entitled to claim citizenship through their parents.

Has there been a policy change?

Until now, ministers are thought to have viewed any efforts to repatriate as too hazardous, but the discovery of three orphaned siblings in a refugee camp last week seems to have changed the outlook.

The siblings were British?

The BBC found the three London-born children, whose parents joined IS five years ago, stranded in a camp in Raqqa, under the control of the Kurdish-dominated militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). They were in distress and desperate to return to Britain.

So what now?

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has suggested British orphans and unaccompanied minors could be returned to the UK. Mr Raab said that "assuming that they would represent no security threat", the UK would "be willing to see them returned home if that can be done in a safe way given the situation on the ground”.

Steps are being taken?

UK officials have connected with agencies on the ground in Syria – thought to include the International Committee of the Red Cross – to identify unaccompanied minors for “safe passage” home.

What about children who are not orphans?

Alison Griffin, Save the Children's head of conflict and humanitarian campaigns, said: "Children whose parents are alive are just as innocent as those who have been orphaned. All have been put through unimaginable horrors.” The charity wants action to “bring all the UK's children home”.

Other countries are also repatriating?

Belgium, France and Germany are preparing to repatriate women and children linked with IS.

What about the Turkish invasion?

Save the Children said the north-east’s major refugee camps - al-Hol and al-Roj - remain unaffected by fighting following Turkey’s moves into Syria earlier this month. There are around 30 unaccompanied British children there.

What about Shamima Begum?

Begum was 15 when she left the UK in 2015 to join IS and it was earlier this year, when it emerged that she was pregnant (her baby later died) that the issue of children caught up in the maelstrom was spotlighted. Today, she will appeal against the removal of her UK citizenship by former home secretary, Said Javid, at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

The ceasefire has inspired action?

Charities and officials are keen to take advantage of the temporary ceasefire between Turkey and Syria. It was announced last Thursday by US Vice President, Mike Pence, and is due to end today. Pence said preparations were already under way for a permanent ceasefire.