HASAKA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) - About three thousand Iraqi refugees fled the city of Mosul and arrived at the outskirts of Syria's Kurdish-held northeastern province of Hasaka on Tuesday as the battle against the Islamic State (IS) started the day before.
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Dijwar Ahmad, Head of Humanitarian Organizations Office in Jazira Canton, said hundreds of Iraqi refugees are crossing the borders to Syria this week and reach Rojava every day.
"Nearly 3,000 Iraqis arrived in Al-Hawl refugee camp as the battle of Mosul was announced."
Before the start of the battle of Mosul, the Hawl refugee camp hosted about 6,000 Iraqi refugees who fled Mosul over the past two years.
Ahmad further pointed out that Rojava authorities in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are preparing to expand the Hawl camp to reach the capacity of 40,000 refugees.
"About 100,000 Iraqi refugees are expected to arrive in Rojava as the battle against Daesh carries on," Ahmad said.
Kurdistan24 team was denied the right to interview the new comers since the Kurdish authorities in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) are hosting the refugees in temporary shelters before taking them to camps.
"All these arrangements are security measures for their safety because they are coming from Mosul which is under the rule of Daesh," a security element spoke to Kurdistan24 on the condition of anonymity.
Syria’s Kurdish northern and northeastern areas, known as Rojava, have already hosted thousands of Iraqi refugees who fled from IS's assaults on Mosul and Sinjar in northern Iraq.
On Monday, the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi security forces launched an offensive against Islamic State (IS) in east and south of Mosul.
In the first day of the operation, the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited the Peshmerga frontline in Khazir and held a press conference, stating that Peshmerga forces liberated 200 square kilometers from IS.
AL-HAWL REFUGEE CAMP
The refugee camp of Al-Hawl has been rebuilt three times.
During the Gulf War in 1991, the UNHCR established the camp on the southern outskirts of the town. At that time, the camp operated in collaboration with the Syrian government.
After the 2003 Iraq war, the camp was reopened for the Iraqis who fled the country when the US sent troops to the country.
On Nov. 13, 2015, when the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took complete control of Al-Hawl by pushing IS insurgents back, the refugee camp was once again reopened to host the Iraqis fleeing IS.
Editing by Ava Homa