“Al-Hawl mini-state” in March 2021 | 17 murders committed by ISIS affiliates, nearly 525 displaced Syrians leave the camp under SDC initiative, while large-scale campaign tops developments
The successive incidents at Al-Hawl camp in the far south-east region of Al-Hasakah are now a unrefuted evidence of the chaos recently unleashed by the Islamic State in Syria. Al-Hawl refugee camp has become more like a “mini-state” hosting ISIS-affiliated members and families. A true crisis that most countries of the world still ignore in order to avoid repatriating their unwanted citizens who joined the notorious organization. Chaos and lack of security are prevalent within the camp, turning it into a “ticking bomb” that cannot be ignored.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) tracked and monitored the key developments in the camp in March 2021.
SOHR activists managed to document 17 murders in Al-Hawl camp in March, all carried out by ISIS affiliates, including male and female extremists. The breakdown of fatalities was as follows:
- 15 Iraqi refugees, including one child and two women
- Two Syrians, they are one child and one woman.
Accordingly, the number of murders documented by SOHR in Al-Hawl camp since the beginning of 2021 has risen to 40, 13 murders in January, ten in February, and 17 in March. These murders have left 41 people dead, and the breakdown of fatalities in the past three months was as follows:
- 30 Iraqi refugees, including two children and five women.
- 11 Syrian people, including a child and three woman, the head of the “Syrian Council” in the camp, and a member of the Internal Security Forces (Asayish).
A gunman of a cell responsible for assassinations and murders in the camp, who was killed when he blew himself up with a grenade just after he had been caught by an Asayish patrol which was pursuing him.
On the other hand, the administration of the Al-Hawl camp in the eastern countryside of Al-Hasakah released, on March 4, over 65 families of some 265 people. These families have arrived in Al-Suwar village in Deir Ezzor countryside where they were given IDs and then transported to their areas in Hajin, Al-Baghouz, Al-Sha’fa and Al-Susah. While on March 18, over 60 families of 260 people from Deir Ezzor province also left Al-Hawl camp in Al-Hasakah countryside. This development came as a part of the initiative by “Syrian Democratic Council” (SDC) to evacuate Syrians from Al-Hawl camp.
Accordingly, 328 Syrian families left the camp since early 2021, 98 families in January, 105 in February, and 125 families in March.
Meanwhile, a large-scale campaign has topped the scene in Al-Hawl camp in March 2021. This campaign was launched on March 28 by joint forces comprising over 5,000 fighters of Syria Democratic Forces, People’s Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), Internal Security Forces (Asayish) and Counter-Terrorism Special Units (H.A.T), targeting ISIS cells and affiliates who created considerable security chaos and committed many murders and assassinations in the camp.
It is worth noting that murders have noticeably escalated in Al-Hawl camp in 2021, as SOHR activists documented 40 murders in the camp since early 2021, while 33 murders were documented in 2020.
As the campaign started, internet network and radio broadcasting were interrupted in the camp. The campaign continued for five consecutive days, before the announcement of the end of its first phase on the sixth day.
During the campaign’s first phase which lasted for five days, nearly 100 ISIS members and collaborators were arrested, mostly of non-Syrian nationalities, including senior commander “Abu Karrar” and another Iraqi official, al-Zakat official of an Algerian nationality, and 11 ISIS women who involved in the killings and provision of equipment used in their crimes.
The Syrian Observatory would like to point out that many other people, including women, were arrested during the first phase of the campaign, but they were released after interrogation. Moreover, the forces participating in the large-scale security campaign took fingerprints of people aged over 15 years old with the aim to confirm their identities. Also, many weapons, equipment and devices were confiscated and tunnels were found inside the camp.
This development has raised several questions about the ways ISIS commanders and officials used to reach Al-Hawl camp without being detected. How could these commanders and officials enter the camp where they hid, smuggled weapons into the camp and committed murders?! All of these aspects indicate to the prevalent corruption among the camp’s guards.
SOHR activists had said that Abu Karrar Al-Iraqi, the senior ISIS commander who had been arrested in Al-Hawl camp, acknowledged of ordering the killing of a man and a woman of Iraqi nationality in early 2020. The two persons were killed at that time by being hitting with hammers, according to the commander. The victims’ bodies were found in the sewage of Al-Hawl camp’s first section allocated to Iraqi refugees.
The Syrian Observatory renews its appeal to the international community for a solution to “Al Hawl mini-state” crisis, which is considered a clear and present danger to everyone. We, at the Syrian Observatory, once more renew our call to the UN Security Council, all organizations concerned and countries that claim to respect and champion human rights globally to act immediately to stop the crimes and violations committed against the Syrian people by the Islamic State and many other active actors on the ground, and to establish appropriate courts for prosecuting the perpetrators. We call on all those countries that have citizens in Al-Hawl camp to find a solution for those individuals and face up to their responsibility.