Houda Emma Kharat was taken to Aleppo by her father when she was just over one year old, evading border controls when he left Italy in December 2011.
The TV show Le Iene, which often reports on political affairs, brought attention to the incident by telling the story of Kharat's mother, Alice Rossini from Milan.
“Today, finally, the story had a happy ending,” said police on Friday, after Kharat was reunited with her mother at Milan's Malpensa airport. In a statement, the national police force said that Rossini had “put an end to her nightmare, clutching little Emma in her arms” just days before the child's seventh birthday.
The girl's father was arrested in Turkey and has been deported to Italy.
A police officer carrying the girl. Photo: Polizia di Stato
Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said on Friday that “excellent collaboration” between Italian and Turkish authorities had led to the girl's safe return.
“The Turkish authorities, aware of the humanitarian value of the case, facilitated little Houda Emma's arrival from Syria and transit across Syria,” he said on Friday. “This evening she will be embraced by her mother again.”
Torna finalmente a casa la piccola #HoudaEmma sottratta dal padre siriano 5anni fa. Eccellente collaborazione Italia-Turchia! Grazie a tutti
— Angelino Alfano (@angealfa) 10 March 2017
Finally little Houda Emma returns home, kidnapped five years ago by her Syrian father. Excellent Italy-Turkey collaboration! Thanks everyone!