Hundreds of Iraqis repatriated from Syria camp: Kurdish official

AFP , Tuesday 25 May 2021

Iraqis make up nearly half of Al-Hol's total population, according to the United Nations

Al-Hol Camp
FILE PHOTO Boys walk around at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, on March 8, 2019 REUTERS

Hundreds of Iraqis were repatriated Tuesday from a Kurdish-run camp in northeast Syria in the first such round of departures, two officials with the Kurdish administration told AFP.

"On Tuesday 94 Iraqi families, or 381 people, left the Al-Hol camp, under Iraqi army escort," said a Kurdish administration official on condition of anonymity.

The transfer came as part of an agreement between the Iraqi government and the multinational coalition battling the Islamic State group, he said.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Iraqi government.

The families "will be transferred to a camp in Iraqi territory," the official added without specifying its location.

He said the departures mark the "first wave" of Iraqi families to leave the Al-Hol camp which is home to more than 60,000 people, including relatives of IS fighters.

Iraqis make up nearly half of Al-Hol's total population, according to the United Nations.

"The families, escorted by the Iraqi army, left the camp and are now heading for the Iraqi border," a security official at the camp told AFP, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear if and when a second transfer would take place.

In February, Kurdish forces handed over 100 suspected Iraqi jihadists to Baghdad, according to an Iraqi security source.

Some 1,600 Iraqis suspected of having fought for IS were still being held by Kurdish forces, according to a UN report published in early February.

Since the fall of IS's self-styled "caliphate" in March 2019, Syria's Kurds have repeatedly urged the international community to repatriate foreign nationals held in northeast Syria.

But these calls have largely fallen on deaf ears with only some, mostly children, allowed to return so far.


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