Skip to main content

Hundreds linked to IS transferred from Syria to Iraq

The Kurdish-run al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected Islamic State (IS) group fighters in the northeastern Hasakeh governorate, on December 6, 2021
— Beirut (AFP)

Syria's autonomous Kurdish region transferred to the Iraqi government more than 600 relatives of Islamic State group members who were detained at the notorious Al-Hol camp, a monitor said Friday.

It is the fourth operation of its kind this year from the camp, which lies less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from the Iraqi border.

In the latest transfer, around "620 people, relatives of IS members, left Al-Hol", coordinated between the camp administration and the Iraqi government, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

The men, women and children belonged to 150 families and left the camp on Thursday, an official in the Kurdish administration told AFP.

Thousands of foreign extremists joined IS as fighters, often bringing their wives and children to live in the "caliphate" declared by the group across swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Kurdish-led forces backed by a US-led coalition dislodged the jihadists from their last scrap of territory in Syria in 2019.

Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to repatriate their citizens from crowded displaced camps, of which Al-Hol is Syria's largest.

More than 100 people, including many women, were murdered in Al-Hol over an 18-month period, the United Nations said in June, calling for camp residents to be returned home.

But nations have mostly received them only sporadically, fearing security threats and a domestic political backlash.

The first repatriation of Iraqi families from Al-Hol, involving around 300 people, took place in May last year.

Iraq should repatriate 500 families in total from Al-Hol this year, the official Iraqi New Agency announced on Wednesday.

In addition to the returned family members, the Iraqi government also received this week about 50 Iraqi IS fighters and leaders who were detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces, according to the Observatory.

The SDF spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria with the support of the US-led coalition.

In early June, Iraq repatriated another 50 Iraqi IS fighters who were detained by Kurdish forces. They were among 3,500 Iraqis held in Syrian Kurdish prisons, a senior military official said at the time.

In April, a senior Iraqi security official said the Al-Hol camp is a security threat and should be dismantled.

It houses around 55,000 people, the United Nations reported in June.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial