A Berlin court has ruled that the government must repatriate the German wife of a suspected Islamic State (IS) group fighter and her three children.
The court said the children would suffer if they remained in the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria.
The case came about because the woman’s family sued the foreign ministry after officials had refused to help her return to Germany.
It is the first such ruling in the country.
Until now Germany had been prepared to allow some of the children to travel to Germany without their mothers, fearing that the women may be radicalised and could pose a danger to German society.
In this case, the court explained that “inaction” meant the three children would be faced with “serious, unreasonable and unavoidable disadvantages”.
The children are eight, seven and two years old, reports the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. The mother is from the federal state of Lower Saxony.
The BBC’s Damian McGuinness in Berlin says this case is one of a number brought by the families of suspected IS members against the German government.
Dozens of German wives of suspected IS fighters and at least 100 children remain in Syrian refugee camps, our correspondent says, living in terrible conditions.
Men who return to Germany after joining IS are nearly always subject to criminal investigation. But prosecutors previously tended to search for more evidence before launching criminal investigations against women.
But this changed in December 2017, when it was announced that men and women suspected of joining IS abroad would not be treated differently.