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Iraq uncovers a plot to get terrorists out of Al-Hol camp

Iraqi authorities will secure the border with Syria to prevent the terrorists from leaving
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REUTERS/ALI HASHISH  -   al-Hol IDP camp in Hasakah governorate, Syria

The Al-Hol camp has been in a dangerous situation for years, and far from being calmed, it has become more and more dangerous. There are now 62,000 people living in a camp that is home to tens of thousands of relatives of ISIS terrorists. They remain in a special section under heavy security measures, which does not prevent continuous attacks on the population of Al-Hol, where eight people have been killed in December alone. The situation could be further agitated after the Iraqi authorities revealed Syria's intention to remove members of the terrorist organisation from the camp.

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AFP/DELIL SOULEIMAN - Members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Special Forces

Major General Yahya Rasoul, spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, issued a statement on television in which he claimed there was a plan to facilitate the passage of ISIS terrorists across the shared Iraqi-Syrian border. Rasoul said they had taken steps to "secure the Iraqi-Syrian border to prevent terrorists from entering Iraq". The families occupying the Al-Hol camp are overwhelmingly Iraqis who have remained there since the Baghdad authorities recaptured the city of Mosul in 2017.

Some of those in Al-Hol were displaced to other camps in Iraq's Nineveh province, which did not sit well with much of the population for fear of the presence of terrorists inside the Al-Hol camp. The undersecretary of the Iraqi Ministry of Immigration, Karim Al-Nouri, claimed at the time that the vast majority were Iraqis and that of the 30,000, two thirds were children and young people under the age of 18. Despite this, the US-led international coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria warned of the risk of turning Al-Hol into an 'incubator' for extremists.

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AFP/DELIL SOULEIMAN - Al-Hol camp for displaced people in northwestern Syria

The fear around this Syrian camp has been growing as the year has progressed. In 2021, 86 people have been killed, 63 of them Iraqi refugees. The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, warned that "chaos and insecurity persist inside the camp" and that it is becoming a "ticking time bomb". The camp authorities have carried out numerous operations against ISIS terrorists, arresting up to 125 suspected ISIS members in March, but this has not stopped the violence from continuing to escalate.

The detection of this plan to remove terrorists from al-Hol allows Iraqi forces to reinforce their presence on the border and prevent greater harm. However, the danger does not seem to be diminishing, even though there is a security arrangement in place for relatives of ISIS members. The camp is becoming increasingly crowded. The number of refugees has risen from 50,000 to 62,000 in just over five months and Western countries with nationals in Al-Hol are refusing to repatriate them, further aggravating tensions in an increasingly dangerous camp.