AL-HOL, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – Female Islamic State suspects living in al-Hol Camp in northeast Syria told Kurdistan 24 on Saturday that they welcomed the Turkish assault on the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and called on Ankara to invade the area and free them.
“God willing, Turkey will help us to flee from here and go to Turkey,” said a French woman known as Um Mustafa.
“We heard that the Turkish army attacked Ain Issa, and our sisters who were detained there have escaped and they fled to Turkey,” she said.
A Russian woman who preferred to be unidentified complained that Kurdish fighters had been preventing her from leaving the camp, saying, "We want Turkey to attack here.”
“If the Turkish army comes to this area, I will be able to flee and meet my husband, who I know well is in Turkey.”
Since the beginning of the Turkish assault on northern Syria almost two weeks ago, disobedience and disorder have grown dramatically among the families in al-Hol, camp administrators told Kurdistan 24.
They added that 11,000 women in the camp are trying to take advantage of the security vacuum left as a result of most SDF troops who were guarding the camp heading toward the border to join in the fight against the Turkish army and its allied Syrian militias.
“900 fighters of the People's Protection Units (YPG) used to guard this camp, but now only 300 fighters guard it,” sources from the camp administration told Kurdistan 24, explaining further that humanitarian and rescue organizations also left the camp after Turkey launched its assault on the region.
“Demonstrators usually chant the slogans of Islamic State and the Caliphate,” a camp administrator said.
Last week, about 800 individuals with Islamic State affiliation escaped from Ain Issa Camp in northern Syria after Turkish artillery and warplanes struck the camp’s vicinity. Displaced people in the open section of the camp fled in fear, but many were able to escape from restricted sections as well, among them Islamic State sympathizers.
The SDF holds thousands of foreign militants in several camps who it is feared may use the Turkish incursion as an opportunity to launch new Islamic State attacks and regroup.
Human Rights Watch recently reported that local officials estimate that the SDF currently has custody of 12,000 prisoners suspected of membership in the Islamic State, including 4,000 foreigners, in seven detention centers in northeastern Syria.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in September called on his supporters to free those who were detained after SDF anti-ISIS operations came to an end in March when they took control of the last land held by the extremist group.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting in Kurdish by Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Salih)