Kurds announce the release of thousands of Syrians detained in Al Hol camp

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Foreigners interned with families of ISIS jihadists, including three women and 17 Spanish minors, are excluded from the amnesty

Thousands of Syrians, up to 25,000, will soon be released in the Al Hol detention camp in northeastern Syria, where about 65,000 people are crowded, among relatives of Islamic State (ISIS, for its acronym in English). ) and civilians displaced by the war. The Kurdish authorities that control the detention center have announced on Monday a “general amnesty”, exclusively for Syrian citizens, in order to relieve pressure on the compound, where the first cases of coronavirus infection have been registered since August.

After having seized the northeastern third of Syria in nearly a decade of conflict and directly contributing to the defeat of the jihadists of the Caliphate forces in March 2019, the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF, alliance led by Kurdish militias) has had to take over overcrowded detention centers such as Al Hol, with inmates of 66 nationalities, including one man, three women and 17 Spanish minors.

Most countries have so far refused to repatriate their nationals citing security reasons because of the return of highly radicalized civilians after more than five years under the Caliphate. Thousands of former Islamic State fighters, meanwhile, are incarcerated in prisons under control of the FDS.

“We have agreed to free all Syrians from the camp,” he announced in a video broadcast on social media. Ilham Ahmed, Kurdish leader of the Syrian Democratic Council who governs de facto that part of Syrian territory, having proclaimed its autonomy from Damascus. Ahmed assured that the approximately 30,000 interned Iraqis would also be free to leave the center, although he acknowledged that most of them will not return to their country for fear of reprisals by the Baghdad authorities against former jihadists and their families. “But those who remain in the field,” he said, “will no longer be the responsibility of our Administration.”

The Kurdish authorities have not yet provided either the timetable or the procedure for the “general amnesty” announced for the Syrian citizens of Al Hol. Since the summer of 2019, more than 4,300 Syrians considered “barely radicalized” have left the internment camp, according to United Nations data cited by France Presse.

Those responsible for the Syrian Democratic Front, which had the support of the United States in the fight against ISIS, have long announced that they are going to stop bearing the heavy burden of maintaining 65,000 people, including 43,000 minors. UNICEF reported last August that children from several dozen countries remain in the Al Hol camp without receiving education or care. To do this, the authorities of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria are going to allow the departure of Syrians and Iraqis from Al Hol.

The Kurdish leaders also intend to stop taking responsibility for the detained foreigners once they are tried by a special court set up in the same camp. “We are not in a position to continue paying exorbitant sums to feed and support all these people,” he warned Ilham Ahmed |. “Nor can we continue to maintain order amid daily episodes of violence, including murders and rapes, and continuous evasion attempts.”

The United States, which has already repatriated all its citizens detained in Al Hol, has urged Western countries to follow in their footsteps after the situation is starting to become unsustainable in the countryside. Sunni Arab tribes, now allied with the Kurds, living in the northeast of the country have also pressured the Syrian Democratic Front to release interned Syrian citizens, almost all Sunni Muslims, if it wants to keep the alliance standing. At least 15,000 of them come from the northeastern provinces of Raqa and Deir Ezzor.

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