Security forces from the Kurdish-led autonomous regions of North and East Syria, in cooperation with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), have successfully completed a joint operation in al-Hol (al-Hawl) camp. Launched on 27 January and supported by the Global Coalition against ISIS, the operation aimed to eradicate active Islamic State (ISIS) bases that had become a persistent threat.
According to SDF spokesman Farhad Shami, the operation resulted in the capture of 31 ISIS militants. Security forces seized several mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and materials associated with violent activities during the operation. A tunnel believed to be used by the extremists was also successfully destroyed.
Shami declared the SDF’s unwavering commitment to defeating ISIS and its extremist ideology. He emphasised that the operation aimed to make al-Hol camp and the world safer. The mission was the third in a series called “Operation Humanity and Security”.
In recent years, the Autonomous Administration and its security and military forces have taken responsibility for confronting the escalating threat posed by ISIS in al-Hol camp. The extremist group has engaged in criminal and violent acts, including intimidation, killings, harassment of residents, burning of humanitarian aid, obstruction of its delivery, and recruitment of children, using women affiliated with ISIS to propagate extremist ideologies.
Al-Hol camp is located south-east of Al-Hasakah (Hesekê), in north-eastern Syria, approximately 12 km from the Iraqi-Syrian border and 70 km from the area under Turkish control. The camp is home to more than 50,000 people, roughly 80 per cent of which are women and children, often the children and wives of ISIS detainees. Despite repatriation efforts by some countries, the camp remains overcrowded.
The camp’s poor conditions, the overwhelming presence of ISIS affiliated individuals and the vulnerability of many young residents to extremist rhetoric have contributed to its status as a breeding ground for the Islamist group.
In particular, Turkey had reportedly targeted security forces at camps and prisons housing thousands of ISIS fighters and their families during intensified attacks on Kurdish targets in North and East Syria. Ankara claimed that these targets posed a threat to its national security. The SDF had previously warned that Turkish attacks risked freeing ISIS members and reviving the group.