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Syria crisis

At least eight murders in a month in Syria’s camp housing ISIS relatives: SDF

Published: Updated:

A camp in northeast Syria housing ISIS relatives saw at least eight murders last month, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Tuesday, the latest of dozens of such killings since January.

Kurdish forces have struggled to maintain security inside the sprawling tent city of Al-Hol, which is home to some 62,000 people, mostly women and children.

The United Nations has warned of radicalization inside the camp, which houses Syrians, Iraqis and some 10,000 foreign women and children linked to ISIS in a separate annex.

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In June, ISIS cells inside Al-Hol “carried out more killings of residents distancing themselves from the extremist ideas of the group,” the Syrian Democratic Forces said.

It said eight people of Syrian and Iraqi nationality were shot dead, among them a 16-year-old Iraqi refugee and two Syrian sisters aged 17 and 23. A Russian woman was wounded.

The SDF also added that 42 women and men and 43 children, of different nationalities, were caught trying to smuggle themselves out of the camp in June.

In early April, the SDF said they had captured 125 suspected ISIS members in a security sweep in Al-Hol, which is in Hasakeh province.

At the time, the group said 47 killings had taken place in the three months since the start of the year.

Syria’s Kurds hold custody of thousands of suspected ISIS fighters in jails, and their relatives in camps, after expelling the extremists in 2019 from the last patch of territory they controlled.

The Kurdish authorities have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate their nationals, but most countries have so far taken back only some of the children.

Beyond the camps, the International Committee of the Red Cross last week sounded the alarm over the Kurdish authorities holding “hundreds of children” in adult prisons.

The Kurds responded by urging international help to set up more rehabilitation centers for minors linked to the extremists.

ISIS overran large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, before several military offensives led to their territorial defeat in eastern Syria in March 2019.

However, extremist sleeper cells continue to launch regular attacks in both countries.

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