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

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

Dozens of militants were subsequently arrested and an undisclosed number of weapons seized following the 24-day operation at al-Hol camp carried out by the Internal Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the Kurds supported by the United States.

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

FILE - Children gather outside their tents at al-Hol camp, home to families of Islamic State group operatives, in Syria's Hasakeh province May 1, 2021.

FILE – Children gather outside their tents at al-Hol camp, home to families of Islamic State group operatives, in Syria’s Hasakeh province May 1, 2021.
(AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)

The camp was primarily used by IS fighters for recruiting and training the next generation of fighters to form another Islamic State caliphate, according to the Internal Security Forces. The al-Hol camp is Syria’s largest refugee camp, the Washington Post reported.

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

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

FILE – Women talk to guards at the gate of Al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province, Syria, March 31, 2019.
(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

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“ISIS has depended primarily on women and children, as real resources linked directly to the leadership of ISIS, to maintain the extremist ideology of ISIS and spread it in the camp,” the statement added.

Camp extremists killed 44 of its residents and aid workers, they also said.

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

FILE – Women walk in al-Hol camp which houses some 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group, many of them foreign nationals, in Hasakeh province, Syria, May 1, 2021 .
(AP Photo/Baderkhan Ahmad, File)

In 2019, the United States and its partners in the Middle East declared victory over the terrorist group ISIS, ending its caliphate rule across the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.