Kurdish-led authority releases dozen of Syrians from IS Camp

BEIRUT (AP) — Kurdish-led authorities on Monday released dozens of Syrian families from one of the largest camps in northeastern Syria holding tens of thousands of women and children, many of them linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

The release of 120 families comes a month after senior Kurdish officials said all 25,000 Syrian nationals in the sprawling al-Hol camp will be allowed to leave as part of a general amnesty to ease pressure on authorities maintaining the camp.

The release, announced through the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), is voluntary.

Unlike previous releases it does not require sponsorship agreements with tribes to which those detained belong. Only identification papers are needed, according to the SDC.

The camp is also home to about 30,000 Iraqis, most of them children, and 10,000 additional foreign nationals.

The camp’s population mushroomed after Kurdish-led forces transported families of IS fighters and supporters of the group who had remained holed up in the last territories IS held in Syria. The military campaign ended in March 2019, with thousands transferred to the camp, including many foreigners. Those released on Monday are from Deir el-Zor province.

The Rojava Information Centre, a media group that covers Kurdish-administered territories, said 17,000 of the 25,000 Syrians in the camp are children. Sheikmous Ahmed, a Kurdish administration official in charge of displaced, said the Monday release is the first in a series.

Senior Kurdish official Ilham Ahmed said last month that running the camp has become a financial and security burden on the Kurdish-led administration. She said foreign nationals would be returned to their countries of origin through separate deals.

Syrians at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp in the al-Hasakeh governorate in northeastern Syria. PHOTO: AFP