Syrian Democratic Forces chief calls for more international support for al-Hol camp
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi on Monday again called on foreign countries to take back their citizens and provide more humanitarian support to the sprawling al-Hol camp in northeast Syria after the SDF launched an operation against Islamic State remnants in the camp.
Our forces have launched a humanitarian & security operation in al-Hol to arrest ISIS criminals and protect civilians. We renew our call on foreign countries to take back their citizens & give more humanitarian support to al-Hol to improve the conditions & stability in the camp.— Mazloum Abdî مظلوم عبدي (@MazloumAbdi) March 29, 2021
“Our forces have launched a humanitarian and security operation in al-Hol to arrest ISIS criminals and protect civilians,” Abdi tweeted on Monday.
“We renew our call on foreign countries to take back their citizens and give more humanitarian support to al-Hol to improve the conditions and stability in the camp.”
On Sunday, the SDF launched an operation with around 6,000 security forces in al-Hol to weed out Islamic State sleeper cells in the camp that have stepped up assassinations in the camp in the last few months. The operation is expected to last between 10 and 15 days.
The Syria-based Rojava Information Center said Sunday that at least 30 people were arrested, among them nine previously wanted persons, including Abu Sa'ed al-Iraqi, a high-ranking Islamc State official.
Although the SDF and the US-led international Coalition announced the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in March 2019, sleeper cell attacks by the terrorist group persist in the liberated territories in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to destabilize the area.
ANHA reported that at least 73 Iraqi refugees and displaced Syrians have been killed in the camp since February 2019.
The SDF on Wednesday announced that ISIS members killed 15 camp residents in March alone, including three women.
The majority of al-Hol’s residents are Iraqis and Syrians, but the camp also includes a large number of foreign families thought to be tied to the Islamic State. According to the United Nations, there are about 62,000 people still in the camp, including tens of thousands of women affiliated with ISIS, along with their children.
As a result of the vast numbers, it has been difficult for guards to prevent repeated violent incidents, including multiple murders.
Local authorities decided in early October to expedite the departure of displaced Syrian families from al-Hol as part of a new program, but the Iraqi government has so far refused to repatriate most Iraqis living in the camp.
Earlier the Kurdish-led civilian Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) again called on the international community to continue repatriation efforts for foreign children and their mothers from al-Hol, deeming current efforts to do so “insufficient.”
According to a recent Human Rights Watch report 25 countries are known to have repatriated any nationals from northeast Syria and most have brought home or helped return only a token few, primarily orphans or young children, in some cases without their mothers.
Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly