SOHR: SDF calls on countries to accelerate repatriation of ISIS-affiliated people
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday called on the countries who have Islamic State affiliated nationals in northeast Syria (Rojava) to accelerate the repatriation of these people, following a jail break attempt by ISIS members which resulted in a week-long clash and the death of hundreds of people.
ISIS attacked al-Sina’a prison in Hasaka city’s Ghweran neighbourhood last Thursday with explosive-laden vehicles and other weapons. The SDF declared full control of the prison on Wednesday but clashes continued on Thursday. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the death toll has reached 218: 156 ISIS members, seven civilians and 55 members of Kurdish forces.
The US-allied SDF called on the United Nations on Thursday to urge all countries who have ISIS-affiliated nationals in Rojava to “accelerate the pace of their repatriation, primarily children and women.”
The SDF and the US have called on the international community several times to repatriate their nationals but only a few of them have responded positively.
Sweden repatriated six of its ISIS-affiliated nationals on Wednesday, said Abdulkarim Omar, head of Rojava’s office for foreign affairs, in a tweet on Thursday.
“Yesterday, January 26, 2022, 2 Swedish women and 4 children from ISIS families were handed over to a delegation from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to an official transfer document signed by the AANES and the Kingdom of Sweden,” said Omar.
About 56,000 people live in the notorious al-Hol camp in Hasaka. The majority of them are those children and women who are accused of being affiliated to ISIS. Most of these people are children.
UNICEF called for the release of children from Ghweran prison on Sunday., saying nearly 850 children who are detained there were at immediate risk.
“Children in the Ghwayran prison are children and have the right to access restorative justice procedures. We call for the release of children from prison. Detention of children should only be a measure of last resort and for the shortest time possible,” it said in a statement.
“In the northeast of Syria, nearly 10,000 children and their mothers are in detention centres or the Al-Hol and Roj camps. They come from more than 60 countries and are struggling to survive amid increasingly dire conditions and the harsh winter,” added the UN agency.
SDF welcomed the UNICEF statement on Thursday but also highlighted some “facts” regarding the ISIS-affiliated children.
“The SDF was forced to detain these children (Caliphate Cubs) for their own safety and the safety of the community as well, as a crucial interim measure until a proper solution is found to deal with this issue,” said the force.
“Our forces have called on the international community and humanitarian organizations to provide adequate support for the Autonomous Administration of north and eastern Syria to construct and equip rehabilitation centers for Syrian and foreign children until they return home, but these calls fell on deaf ears,” it added.
The SDF also said that children are kept separately from adults in the Ghweran prison which had held about 5,000 ISIS members before last week’s attack. These people have reportedly been moved to a different jail.