Syrian Kurds raid notorious al-Hol camp in anti-ISIS operation

The SDF has raided the notorious al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria as part of an anti-ISIS operation. Some 47 people were killed by ISIS supporters inside the camp since the start of the year.

Duvar English

Kurdish-led forces in northeastern Syria have raided the infamous al-Hol camp during an anti-ISIS operation after a spike in violence at the site. 

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that several people were arrested during the raid. 

The campaign by nearly 5,000 Kurdish forces came on the heel of a spike in violence in al-Hol camp, home to more than 60,000 people, many of them supporters or families of ISIS militants. 

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.

The forces, in a statement published on the Kurdish Hawar news agency, said they arrested nine people, including an Iraqi ISIS member who worked in recruitment.

Violence has increased in the past months, where 47 people were killed by ISIS supporters inside the camp since the start of the year, the statement said.

According to Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, more than 30 people were arrested in the sweeping operation in and around the al-Hol camp.

"The arrests are ongoing" as part of a days-long operation by the SDF, which is spearheaded by the People's Protection Units (YPG), Al Jazeera cited Abdul Rahman as saying. 

Syrians and foreigners “suspected of supporting ISIS” have been arrested, he said.

SDF officials confirmed the operation, with one of them saying it would run at least 10 days.

Separately, the spokesman for the U.S.-led Coalition Colonel Wayne Marotto said on Twitter the Kurdish-led forces are also enrolling residents in the camps using biometric technology to help "maintain security by identifying [those residing in the camp] connected to terrorist activities."

Marotto said the campaign is aimed at improving the safety and security of those living in the camp.

It has been two years since the U.S.-led coalition captured the last sliver of territory held by ISIS, ending their self-declared caliphate that covered large parts of Iraq and Syria.

The brutal war took several years and left U.S.-allied Kurdish authorities in control of eastern and northeast Syria, with a small presence of several hundred American forces still deployed there.

Since then, the remaining ISIS militants have gone underground in the Syrian-Iraqi border region and continued to launch attacks.

Thousands of wives, widows, children and other family members or supporters of ISIS who had stayed in the last sliver of land the group held were moved to the camp or prisons.

The majority of the residents of al-Hol are Iraqis and Syrians but they also include other nationalities.

The camp has been chaotic, with the hardcore fighters among its population enforcing their will on others and seeking to prevent them from cooperating with Kurdish authorities guarding it.