Coalition indirectly supporting SDF operation in notorious al-Hol camp: Coalition spokesperson
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The US-led Coalition is indirectly supporting a new operation by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the al-Hol camp in Syria’s Hasakah province, Coalition spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
“This operation is being led and executed by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), our partner forces in northeast Syria, with indirect CJTF-OIR support. The purpose of this SDF operation is to degrade and disrupt Daesh (ISIS) activities within the camp to ensure the safety and security of camp residents,” he said.
“The coalition supports our partner’s efforts in degrading the capabilities of Daesh, such as finance, recruitment, ideological influence and communication to ensure their enduring defeat.”
Our @SDF_Syria and #Asayish partners began an op intent on improving security, safety and access to NGO assistance for those residing at the al-Hawl IDP camp. Preventing future generations of daesh from growing at the camp will ensure the enduring mission to #defeatdaesh https://t.co/4ODSHwFvVr— OIR Spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto (@OIRSpox) March 28, 2021
“The Coalition forces will provide enabling support—to include intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)—during the operation for early warning and situational awareness throughout Al-Hawl IDP camp,” he added.
The spokesperson added that Coalition forces will be in a rear support position but will be close enough to “operation advisement, assistance and enablement.”
Ambassador Jussi Tanner, the Finnish Foreign Ministry’s special envoy in charge of the repatriation of foreign nationals, told Kurdistan 24 earlier that “it looks like a major security operation to crack down on the assassinations which have gone out of control in 2021.”
“The SDF have clearly planned this thoroughly. It’s their largest mobilization in al-Hol since June last year,” he stated.
According to the Syrian Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA), 6,000 members of the Internal Security Forces (also known as Asayish), alongside the SDF forces, carried out the operation on Sunday “to protect” civilians from ISIS cells.
The operation was officially launched on Sunday morning, but on Friday, reports were indicating SDF forces were amassing near the camp ahead of the campaign.
Although the SDF and 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.
The Syrian Kurdish news agency ANHA already reported on Friday that tribal leaders from the camp, located in the Hasakah countryside, stressed the need to “launch large-scale security and combing operations in al-Hol camp eliminate ISIS sleeper” after an increase in murders.
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.
In an official statement on Sunday, Ali Hesen, spokesperson for the International Security Forces in the camp, announced that al-Hol Camp “poses” a real danger to the region and the world at large.
He added that the facility “has turned into an ISIS epicenter, where every form of terror is committed on a daily basis.”
Hesen added that since January 1, 2021, at least 47 persons have been murdered. He affirmed that the Asayish and SDF launched this “humanitarian as well as a security campaign in the camp to bring to an end all these ISIS activities.”
So far, it is unclear yet how many ISIS suspects have been arrested.
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.
Editing by Khrush Najari