US-backed fighters rescue tens of thousands of women and children in raid on ISIS al-Hol camp

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Syrian fighters backed by the United States have rescued thousands of women and children after a week-long raid on a refugee camp in northern Syria.

Dozens of militants were later detained and an undisclosed number of weapons confiscated after a 24-day operation at the al-Hol camp conducted by internal security forces and the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Altogether around 50,000 Syrians and Iraqis lived in tents in the camp, including about 20,000 children. An additional 2,000 women, along with 8,000 children, lived in a separate annex of the camp. The women in the second group were from 57 different countries and are believed to be supporters of the terrorist group IS.

FILE – Children gather outside their tents at the al-Hol camp, which houses families of members of the Islamic State group, in Hasakeh province, Syria May 1, 2021.
(AP photo/Badarkhan Ahmed, file)

According to internal security forces, the camp was primarily being used by IS fighters to recruit and train the next generation of fighters to create another Islamic State caliphate. The Washington Post reported that the al-Hol camp is the largest refugee camp in Syria.

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Referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, US-backed forces said, “The operation was launched following increasing crimes of murder and torture by ISIS cells against camp residents.”

FILE - Women talk to guards at the gate at the al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province, Syria March 31, 2019.

FILE – Women talk to guards at the gate at the al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province, Syria March 31, 2019.
(AP photo/Maya Aleruzzo, file)

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“ISIS relies primarily on women and children, as real resources directly related to ISIS leaders, to perpetuate ISIS extremist ideology and spread it in the camp,” the statement said.

He also said that 44 of its residents and humanitarian workers were killed by extremists in the camp.

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FILE - Women walk into the al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province, Syria, May 1, 2021, which houses nearly 60,000 refugees, many of whom are foreign nationals, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group.

FILE – Women walk into the al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province, Syria, May 1, 2021, which houses nearly 60,000 refugees, many of whom are foreign nationals, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group.
(AP photo/Badarkhan Ahmed, file)

In 2019, the US and its allies in the Middle East declared victory over the IS terror group, ending their caliphate regime along the Iraq-Syria border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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