ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Islamic State (IS) attacked a refugee camp near the town of al-Bahra on Friday, taking advantage of a dust storm to kidnap several civilians.
“Once again, the terrorist organization [revealed] its anti-human face to target the camp for the displaced people, which is adjacent to al-Bahra town, east of Deir al-Zor,” the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) reported that IS militants took 100 families.
The extremists took advantage of the poor weather conditions to infiltrate the Hajin camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) adjacent to Al Bahra town, the SDF said.
“In parallel with moving their dormant cells inside the camp, they targeted the civilians directly, while SDF confronted and engaged with them to protect the displaced from the fires of terrorism,” it added.
According to the SDF, some of their “best fighters” were killed while defending the civilians, killing over 20 IS militants, but a group of civilians was kidnapped, “and [IS] took them into the areas controlled by the terrorist organization.”
It is unclear if any civilians were killed or injured. It is also possible that IS could even kill or punish the kidnapped civilians.
“It should be noted that special units of our forces carried out an urgent evacuation of civilians from the camp to areas away from the engagements field,” the SDF statement added.
According to a report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,local communities in Gharanij town, as well as Bahra and surrounding villages,are hosting an estimated 5,000 (1,000 families) of the 7,000 people recently displaced in the Deir al-Zor governorate.
Moreover, a further 200 IDPs are reportedly sheltering in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Gharanij.
Additionally, there are reportedly some 700 IDPs sheltering at the Hajin makeshift camp while a further 1,300 people are also estimated to be sheltering in the Baeir Al-Bahra IDP site in the desert, approximately 15 kilometers from Bahra village and 15 kilometers north of Hajin.
Reports suggest the site is receiving an average of 20 to 25 new arrivals each day.
SDF teams are receiving the civilians and “provide shelter for them and provide the necessary needs,”the SDF media center had said earlier.
On Sept. 11, the SDF and the US-led international coalition announced the start of their operation on the last remaining IS-held town in eastern Syria on the Euphrates River.
“The operation is the last major SDF ground offensive in the MERV (Middle Euphrates Valley) to liberate the citizens from the brutal rule [of IS] they have endured over the past four years,” Army Col. Sean Ryan, spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, told Kurdistan 24.
“The Coalition will continue to support and promote regional stability to ensure the conditions which gave rise to [IS] never return.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany