The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the end of its military operation in Syria’s infamous Al-Hawl refugee camp on Sunday, 18 September.
The US-backed forces were able to arrest over 200 people, including dozens of women, during the three-week-long operation against ISIS cells.
The SDF also discovered new tunnels that ISIS fighters were using to smuggle weapons and other materials into the Kurdish-run detention camp.
“We launched the campaign at this time because of the urgent need brought on by the escalation and increase in violent cases by ISIS cells in Al-Hawl camp,” Ali Hassan, spokesperson for the internal security forces of the SDF, told Reuters on 28 August.
The camp has seen a spike in murders in recent months, with the international community raising concerns that the camp could become a new hub for the extremist group.
According to the UN, over 100 people have been killed inside the camp since the start of the year.
The camp, located in Syria’s Hasakah governorate, houses approximately 56,000 people, most of whom are women and children. The majority of those inside the camp originate from Syria and Iraq. However, the camp’s “migrant sector” houses at least 10,000 foreigners from over 60 countries, including France, which has been reluctant to repatriate its own nationals.
Internal security forces reportedly arrested a total of 226 people linked to the extremist group, uncovered 25 tunnels, confiscated various assault weapons, and freed two Yazidi women who were being held by female ISIS members.
Regional authorities have called on foreign countries to repatriate their nationals as the situation has become too difficult to contain on the ground.
“We also call on the relevant international parties to note the organic relationship between the Turkish intelligence services and ISIS cells,” the statement said.
Kurdish security forces also claimed that the Turkish NGO Bahar was complicit in supporting ISIS extremists with weapons and money.