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Kurds to Allow ISIS-Linked Syria Families to Quit al-Hol Camp

Kurds to Allow ISIS-Linked Syria Families to Quit al-Hol Camp

Monday, 5 October, 2020 - 18:15
Al-Hol camp. (Reuters)

Syria's Kurds are to allow thousands of Syrians including families of ISIS group fighters to leave a squalid and over-populated camp they run, a top official said Monday.

Remaining "Syrian nationals will leave al-Hol camp and only foreigners will remain," said Riyad Derar, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), political wing of the region's main military force.

"In al-Hol, there are Syrian relatives of ISIS fighters and they too will be released" with security guarantees from their families, Derar told AFP.

Syrian ISIS extremists held in Kurdish prisons also in northeast Syria will not be included in the releases, the SDC official added.

Kurdish authorities have already released batches of Syrians held in al-Hol under a series of deals struck with Arab tribes.

A UN report released in July said more than 4,000 Syrians have been freed since June 2019.

Al-Hol hosts more than 60,000 people, including 24,300 Syrians either captured or displaced by fighting, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Iraqis make up the bulk of tens of thousands of foreigners in al-Hol, which also holds Western nationals, many of them families of ISIS fighters.

Without giving a timeframe, Derar said Iraqis will also be allowed to leave, although many wanted to remain for fear of being jailed or put on trial in Iraq for alleged links to ISIS.

Arin Sheikhmous, an official with the Kurdish administration, has said Syrians from the country's north and east, especially those from Raqqa and Deir Ezzor provinces, will be the first to leave.

"For those from regime and Turkish-controlled regions ... we aim to find guarantors and release these people too," he said Monday.

As for Iraqi nationals, Sheikhmous said the Baghdad government was "dragging out the process" for their repatriation.

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