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Syrian women, kids to leave crowded camp


Ain Issa, Syria: Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria said on Sunday they plan to hand 800 women and children, including relatives of fighters, , to their families in the first such transfer from an overcrowded camp.

The women and children — all Syrians — are living among the dregs of the IS group in the Kurdish-run Al Hol camp, home to nearly 74,000 people including more than 30,000 Syrians.

They will leave on Monday and be “taken to their families” at the request of local Arab tribes, according to Abd al Mehbach, co-chair of the Kurdish administration’s executive council.

The move follows an agreement brokered by the Kurdish administration and Arab tribal leaders during a meeting in the town of Ain Issa last month.

It is to be the first in a larger wave of releases that aim to empty Al Hol of its Syrian residents, he said. The next batch is expected to follow after the Eid al Fitr holiday due to start sometime in the next few days marking the end of Ramadhan.

Hoovered up during a final offensive against the militants by a US-backed Kurdish-led force, thousands of wives and children of IS fighters have been trucked into Al Hol from a string of Syrian villages south of the camp in recent months.

Their numbers have created a major headache for the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration and have sparked concerns that the camp is emerging as a fresh fighter powder keg.

But “not all of those being released are relatives of IS fighters,” Mehbach said of the group set to leave on Monday.

Some sought shelter at the camp to escape tough humanitarian conditions in areas levelled by months of fighting, he said.

Monday’s group consists of residents from the northeastern city of Raqa — once IS’s de facto capital in Syria — as well as the town of Tabqa, 70 kilometres west, according to Mehbach. — AFP

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