Syria: Security forces move into notorious al Hol camp to oust ISIS elements

Security forces in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria have entered the notorious al Hol camp where ISIS sympathisers are being held. The operation was described as an effort to improve the situation in the camp where several thousand foreign women and children are among 69,000 people being held. Kurdish authorities admitted to Sky News last week that while they maintained control of the perimeter fence, they had increasingly lost control inside the camp.

Image: Several thousand foreign women and children are among 69,000 people being held at the camp

In a statement, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition to remove the Islamic State said: “Today our Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Asayish (Kurdish security forces) partners began an operation to improve the safety and security of those living and working in the al Hol Internally Displaced Persons Camp…

“This operation aims to remove elements of Daesh (ISIS) from the camp and increase the ability for NGOs to safely provide the much needed assistance inside the camp. Advertisement

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“The coalition stands ready to enable and assist our partners in their efforts to bring an end to all Daesh activities inside al Hol and is committed to the enduring defeat of this terrorist organisation.” In a visit to the camp this month, Sky News witnessed the dire security situation and deeply worrying child protection issues.

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This week a 15-year-old boy was shot dead. Speaking to Sky News, the spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces warned last week that a new IS caliphate was being created within the camp. Women and children from more than 60 countries are being held in the camp.

They were captured from the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Bagouz, the last stronghold of the Islamic State when it was defeated in 2019. The male ISIS members, including thousands of Europeans, continue to be held in a number of prisons in the region. The Kurdish authorities are attempting to put them on trial but with limited resources.

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On Friday, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, visited al Hol and called on the international community to come together to find a “new approach” and long-term solutions for the problem.

Mr Maurer said: “This is really the place where hope is going to die.

It is one of the largest, if not the largest, child protection crisis with which we are confronted today.”

“It is a scandal that the international community is allowing such a place to continue, and that this situation continues, not because of an insurmountable humanitarian problem, but because of political divergences which prevent finding a durable solution for those who have been stranded here in northeast Syria.”

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