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Iraq takes back 111 IS-linked families from Syria

MOSUL, IRAQ (AFP) – Iraqi authorities have repatriated 111 Iraqi families linked to the Islamic State (IS) group from a Kurdish-run camp in northern Syria, a local official said.

They arrived on Saturday and were transferred to Al-Jadaa camp south of Mosul, in Nineveh province, said the official who declined to be named.

Since May 2021, at least 339 families linked to the extremist IS group have been moved from Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria to Al-Jadaa which hosts around 7,500 internally displaced people.

These include families of extremists, some of whom hail from other parts of Iraq, including the provinces of Salaheddine and Ramadi, according to Iraqi authorities.

The prospect of their return to their places of origin has sparked concern among residents who survived the brutal rule of IS when it occupied one third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017.

In late 2017, Iraq declared “victory” over IS after driving the extremists from all urban areas, with support from a United States (US)-led coalition.

Iraqi authorities announced last month their intention to close Al-Jadaa, the last camp sheltering displaced in Iraq, outside of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

But the process is long and facing resistance from local populations who don’t want IS families among them.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, six million Iraqis were displaced during the IS rule.

Around 1.2 million of them still have not been able to go home, including more than 100,000 who live outside camps in “informal sites”.