Three Iraqis killed in Syria's Al-Hol camp: Monitor

AFP , Saturday 13 Nov 2021

Three Iraqi nationals, including a woman, were killed in violence inside the northeastern Syrian camp of Al-Hol that houses relatives of suspected jihadists, a monitor said Saturday.

Kurdish-run al-Hol camp
Children walking among shelters at the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected Islamic State (IS) group fighters, in Syria s northeastern Hasakeh governorate. AFP

The overcrowded camp is under the control of the Kurdish administration running the region but violence, mostly perpetrated by the Islamic State group, is frequent.

According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a woman originally from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul died of bullet wounds on Saturday.

On Friday, two Iraqi refugees were killed by suspected IS gunmen inside a section of the camp where those who have received threats are usually sheltered, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Al-Hol is home to an estimated 62,000 people, half of whom are Iraqi nationals.

Most of the camp's residents are people who fled or surrendered during the dying days of IS's self-proclaimed caliphate.

Relatives of suspected foreign IS fighters are held in a separate high-security enclosure.

Al-Hol is rife with IS sleeper cells and weapons. Breakout attempts, attacks on guards, aid workers and members of displaced families are common.

A massive security sweep of the camp in March had led to he arrest of more than 100 suspected IS sympathisers.

The Observatory's Abdel Rahman said "the latest violence could touch off a fresh escalation in the murder rate inside the camp."

Seventy-eight people have been killed in Al-Hol so far this year, 58 of them Iraqis, according to the Britain-based war monitor.

The Kurdish authorities running the area consistently said they did not have the capacity to organise trials for all the detained foreign suspects nor support their families.

Western countries have been wary of the impact mass repatriations could have on domestic security and public opinion.

The living conditions in the desert camp are dire and many organisations have described Al-Hol as a security and humanitarian time bomb.

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