Murders committed by ISIS cells in Syria’s al-Hol camp drop starkly in April: Report
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – With only one confirmed killing in northern Syria’s sprawling al-Hol displacement camp in April, a new report of the Syria-based Rojava Information Center (RIC) said on Monday that recent operations by local Kurdish-led forces to rout out ISIS sympathizers committing such crimes have had a significant effect.
“The number of deadly attacks in Hol Camp dropped significantly as compared to the months of February and March: we count only one confirmed killing for the month of April, as compared to 19 in February and 16 in March,” the report read.
“The deadly attack killed one Iraqi woman and injured two more people,” it continued. “The 17 further arrests in Hol Camp carried out after the closure of the operation included an expert in IED [improvised explosive device] construction who was also involved in organizing sleeper cell attacks.”
In late March, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and local Kurdish Asayish forces launched an operation in al-Hol to weed out ISIS cells that had in recent months stepped up assassinations in the camp. Some 158 suspects have been arrested so far.
That, concluded the RIC, “seems to have had a significant impact on deadly attacks inside the camp.”
“As [the] number of deaths had soared since the beginning of the year, the fact that only one confirmed killing happened in April can be seen as a successful result of the operation.”
Moreover, during the operation, two dead bodies were found in the camp’s sewage system, but the date and other circumstances surrounding the deaths is still unknown, the RIC said.
The local North Press news agency reported on Sunday that the body of an Iraqi refugee, identified as 26-year-old Manan Khalil Ibrahim who had been shot by unknown individuals, was found within the facility as well.
A humanitarian source working inside the camp previously confirmed to Kurdistan 24 that the number of assassinations have reduced in the camp since the military operation began, but they felt that it was too early to fully characterize its final results.
The majority of al-Hol’s over 60,000 residents are Iraqis, approximately 31,000 of them, and also Syrians, but the camp also includes a large number of foreign residents thought to be tied to ISIS and their children.
Local authorities want to reduce pressure on the camp by repatriating Iraqis and other foreign residents. In October they attempted to both expedite and increase the departure of displaced Syrian families as part of a new reform program.
The effort, however, has proven difficult amid other governments’ opposition to receiving those with ISIS affiliation, such as Baghdad’s indefinite postponement just last week to take back Iraqi nationals.
Editing by John J. Catherine