The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR: 800 Iraq refugees repatriated from Syria

Eight hundred Iraqi refugees who were stranded in north-east Syria have returned to their home country earlier this week, with hundreds more reportedly soon to follow as Baghdad seeks to repatriate its citizens from its war-torn neighbour.

According to the AFP news agency, a Syrian Kurdish official revealed that the Iraqi government had “agreed to the return of (a total of) 800 families”, and that the return was facilitated on Thursday this week.

The first group of Iraqi refugees left Syria on buses via the Al-Yarubiyah border crossing, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

Following the military and territorial defeat of Daesh in 2019, the group’s surviving fighters were captured and detained in prisons in north-east Syria, while their families – women and children – have been kept in detention camps throughout the territories run by the Kurdish militias.

Many of those detained in the camps are foreign nationals from the region, as well as beyond such as from Asia and Europe. Most states whose nationals belong to Daesh have made attempts to repatriate their citizens from north-east Syria, but there are many which fear that the returned detainees could pose potential national security threats.

Iraq has reportedly taken measures to limit that risk, however, with a senior Iraqi security source telling AFP that “We have been checking their [Iraqi refugees’] identities for security reasons for the past year.” The source added that their return is important as “They’ve been suffering from the difficult economic conditions in Syria.”

Baghdad has conducted numerous repatriation operations from north-east Syria over the past few years, but reports have emerged showing the risk Sunni families face upon their return. With Iran-backed Shia militias seeing them as Daesh sympathisers and even the government marginalising them, they and their hometowns have increasingly faced persecution.

In January last year, for example, hundreds of innocent Sunnis detained in Iraqi prisons were set to be executed after being accused of responsibility for suicide bombings in Baghdad.




Source: Middle East Monitor