A few days ago, the Internal Security Forces in northern and eastern Syria foiled a new attempt to smuggle ISIS families from Al-Hol camp, which houses nearly 69,000 people among displaced Syrians, Iraqi refugees and ISIS family members.
Al-Hol camp was established 45 km to the east of Al-Hasakah on the Syrian-Iraqi border in 1991 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in cooperation with the Syrian government, to accommodate Iraqi refugees during the second Gulf War that extended between August of the year 1990 to January 17, 1991.
The camp was restarted during the American intervention in Iraq in 2003 after Iraq expelled thousands of Palestinians on its territory.
In the Syrian crisis, ISIS occupied Al-Hol and turned it into a main cross point between Syria and Iraq, but the Syrian Democratic Forces, which was established in October 2015, liberated Al-Hol in November.
After that, the camp was reopened in March 2016 by the Autonomous Administration in front of the displaced Syrians fleeing the battles between government forces and mercenary groups that were receiving support from Turkey and Qatar, as well as refugees fleeing battles between Iraqi forces and ISIS in Mosul and other Iraqi areas.
In March 2019, with the geographical elimination of ISIS, the Syrian Democratic Forces, started to transfer the families of the mercenaries to the camp.
Now, there are about 40,000 ISIS women and children in the Al-Hol camp from 53 countries, and several international organizations work in the camp.
Escape attempts increased with the Turkish occupation attacks on northern and eastern Syria ′
The camp witnessed many escape attempts for women and children of ISIS, many of which were thwarted, and the attempts to flee increased, especially with the Turkish attacks on northern and eastern Syria on the 9th of October 2019.
It is noteworthy that most of the escape attempts are carried out with the help of Turkey, as our agency had previously confirmed the communication of mercenaries in the areas occupied by Turkey such as Jarablus, Idlib and Al-Bab, with smugglers to smuggle women into those areas in preparation for their transfer to Turkey.
Turkey admits that it escaped ISIS women from Al-Hol camp
Turkish intelligence admitted that it smuggled the Moldovan ISIS woman, Natalia Barkal, and her four children from Al-Hol camp in July of this year.
In this context, the official spokesman for the Internal Security Forces in northern and eastern Syria, Ali Al-Hassan, says that the attempts to flee Al-Hol camp have not stopped, and confirms that these attempts came first after the Internal Security Forces moved to fight ISIS mercenary cells and detain mercenaries' families. ISIS is in the camp to reduce their danger, and after announcing the victory of the Syrian Democratic Forces over ISIS terrorism in the town of Al-Baghouz.
Hassan pointed out that the ISIS families' escape attempts increased with the attack launched by the Turkish occupation army on northern and eastern Syria in October of last year.
He said that ISIS women tried to benefit from the attack, and since that period they have created chaos in the camp by killing those who abandon ISIS mentality and those who reject it, along with attempts to flee.
′ Attempts to escape exceeded 700 ′
In his speech to our agency, Al-Hassan revealed large numbers of escape attempts, and said: "The number of attempts that have been thwarted to this moment exceeded 700, in which the mercenary families tried to escape from the detention area."
He pointed out that their forces arrested more than 100 people who participated in the attempts to smuggle ISIS women and children in the camp, and brought them to the competent courts on this basis.
He noted that their forces were able to a very large extent to limit these attempts, as a result of the security check, and said, "Thanks to the security checks of our forces responsible for guarding this camp, we were able to thwart those attempts and uncover the cells responsible for them and most of them linked to foreign agendas."
Most of the smuggling networks that were exposed belong to Turkish intelligence
Al-Hassan explained that most of the ISIS family smuggling networks that were exposed are affiliated with the Turkish intelligence.
Al-Hassan revealed that the smuggling attempts are carried out through vehicles of the operating organizations in the camp. He said in this context: “Those vehicles that were trying to smuggle families out of the camp, their drivers and owners provided them with secret hideouts in which women and children were placed in order to smuggle them out of the camp.”
Al-Hassan believes that there may be a small percentage of ISIS families who were able to flee the camp before the method used in smuggling was revealed, as no one can be smuggled in other ways.
Hassan confirmed that the Autonomous Administration is working by various means to communicate with the countries from which ISIS women and children are descended, in order to return them to their countries, noting that the Autonomous Administration has returned many ISIS children to their countries.
In addition to the escape attempts, Al-Hol camp witnesses killings and torture by ISIS women who have formed what are known as "Hisbah" groups in the camp, and field courts that the camp residents say are "efforts to preserve ISIS ideology among the mercenaries' families, and spread it in other sections that include Iraqi refugees and displaced Syrians in the camp since 2016.