Around 200 displaced Syrians leave al-Hol camp: Kurds

The remains of buildings line a street damaged during fighting between US-backed SDF and ISIS militants, in Raqqa, on April 5, 2018. (AP)

Around 200 Syrian displaced people, mostly women and children, were heading home from an overcrowded desert camp in the northeast of the war-torn country on Sunday, a Kurdish official said.

Syria’s Kurds, after years of fighting ISIS are holding tens of thousands of civilians and ISIS relatives in camps for the displaced.

In June, they started sending home Syrian families that had fled their homes during battles against the extremists from the overpopulated camp of Al-Hol.

A Kurdish official said around 200 people were leaving the camp on Sunday, to head back to their villages in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

“Most are women and children, with just some men,” said Sheikhmous Ahmad, a Kurdish official in charge of the displaced.

The majority were civilians with no ties to ISIS, he said, while a few might have aligned with the extremists but today regretted their decision.

The group was headed back to the villages of Hajin, Shaafa or Baghouz, which were the last to be held by ISIS before US-backed fighters expelled them from the entire area in March.

Ahmad said around 300 people from Al-Hol had already been taken back to the same area last week.

Previously, evacuations had been put on hold after Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies on October 9 launched a blistering military operation against Kurdish forces.

In June, several hundred women and children had returned to the towns of Raqqa -- once the de-facto ISIS capital in Syria -- and Tabqa, both located in the northern province of Raqqa.

That area was taken by Kurdish-led forces from ISIS in October 2017.

The United Nations said the Al-Hol camp’s population last month stood at around 70,000 people. These included more than 30,000 Iraqis, some 28,000 Syrians and over 10,000 foreign nationals -- many of them relatives of alleged extremist fighters being held in detention.

The Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on Western nations to repatriate their nationals, but they have been largely reluctant, except in a handful of cases.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:01 - GMT 07:01
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