Syria’s notorious al-Hol camp to release 69 families as part of efforts to empty facility

Just under 100 displaced Syrians left al-Hol camp on Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo: Internal Security Forces)
Just under 100 displaced Syrians left al-Hol camp on Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo: Internal Security Forces)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A total of 69 families comprised of internally displaced persons (IDPs) will leave the notorious al-Hol camp in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province this week, the Syria-based Rojava Information Center said in a public statement on Tuesday.

According to AANES (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria) authorities, 69 families of Syrian IDPs will be released from Al-Hol camp back to Deir ez-Zor and the surrounding countryside tomorrow Wednesday, October 20th at 10 am,” the RIC tweeted on Tuesday.

Clara Moore, a Syria-based researcher at the RIC, told Kurdistan 24 that “AANES authorities have been clear that they want to release as many people as it is safe to do so from Al-Hol, especially Syrians who want to return home.”

To that end, she continued, “they have kept up a steady drumbeat of releases; over 12000 Syrians have been released from Al-Hol since 2019. So far in 2021, 2231 Syrian IDPs have returned home; that number will grow tomorrow.” 

The majority of al-Hol’s over 60,000 residents are Iraqis and Syrians. However, there is also a large number of foreign nationals who are thought to have links to ISIS held in the notorious camp, many of them with children.

Local authorities decided in October 2020 to expedite the departure of displaced Syrian families as part of a new reform program.

“While the security situation in Al-Hol is difficult, Deir ez-Zor is also facing a particularly difficult security situation at the moment, with increased ISIS attacks and assassinations,” Moore added.

Most of ISIS’s activities occur in the Deir al-Zor province, an area plagued by targeted killings, terrorist attacks, and tribal tensions.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who run the camp, announced on Monday that affiliated fighters arrested 22 suspects with alleged links to ISIS in the Deir al-Zor countryside

Read More: SDF-linked security forces arrest 22 ISIS suspects in Syria's Deir al-Zor

“The fact that the authorities are releasing the families there suggests a confidence in their security clearance process, and a commitment to making sure the release process doesn’t stagnate," Moore concluded.