Amid remarkable U.S. interest in the al-Hol camp in the northern countryside of Hassakeh, which houses ISIS families, the Australian government announced the launch of a mission to “rescue dozens of Australians” trapped in the al-Hol camp controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Guardian reported that more than 20 Australian women and more than 40 children – widows of ISIS families inside “concentration camps in al-Hol and Rojava in northeastern Syria.”
The newspaper quoted one of the women detained in the camp as confirming that she and other women are wives of ISIS militants who were coerced or deceived to travel to Syria. She noted that most Australian children are under the age of six, and many were born in the camps.
Read Also: Cholera Outbreak: Towards “Worst Scenario”
American interest in the al-Hol camp began to emerge last September when the commander of the US Central Command, General Eric Corella, visited the camp on September 10. He called it a “humanitarian flashpoint” amid a high temperature (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and a great water scarcity. He explained that the camp had become a breeding ground for the next generation of ISIS, as 70% of the population is under the age of 12, and they are vulnerable to extremism due to their poor conditions. Al-Monitor confirmed at the time that this was the first time that a U.S. official had visited the camp.
On September 30th, Democratic and Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that seeks to address the crisis of displaced Syrians, specifically the al-Hol camp issue. Democratic lawmakers Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Lindsey Graham expressed concern that ISIS would extend its control over these camps.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.