The Iraqi government for the first time is expected to bring home about 100 Iraqi families from a smaller camp in Syria next week.
The repatriation is something that American officials see as a reliable indicator of long-term efforts to repatriate thousands of Iraqis from the camp, known as the birthplace ISIL (ISIS) youth.
During an undisclosed visit to Syria on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State for the Middle East, Marine General Frank McKenzie, expressed hope that a relocation from al-Hol camp would take place. He has repeatedly warned young people in the camps that they are being “transformed” and will be the next generation of dangerous fighters.
“It will be the first step in bringing back so many people, and I think this is the way to deal with it al-Hol camp, as well as other camps in the region, “McKenzie told reporters accompanying him to Syria.
“States must rehabilitate their citizens, repatriate them, repatriate them, remove them from their needs, and make them more prosperous.”
A little skepticism
U.S. officials say the evacuation of people from a camp in northeastern Syria is just one of several issues the US and Iraqi governments are discussing as they prepare for future military diplomacy. It happened at a rally on Thursday when McKenzie stood unannounced at the capital Baghdad. The official spoke anonymously to discuss internal discussions.
Iraqi leaders earlier this year talked about repatriating their citizens, but did not follow through. As a result, next week’s plans have been partially implemented, and it seems absurd if it could be the first phase of game change or a single alliance.
The al-Hol camp is home 70,000 people – especially women and children – have fled their homes as a result of the civil war in Syria and the war against ISIL. About half are Iraqi. About 10,000 foreign visitors live in protected areas, and many in the camp remain ISIL followers.
Many countries have refused to repatriate their citizens who were among the world’s people who came to join ISIL after it was declared a “caliphate” in 2014. The group that held the region ended in 2017, but many countries left to return to their citizens. , fearing their connection to ISIL.
‘Offer a low price’
In late March, a Kurdish-led US-led Kurdish army in northeastern Syria carried out a five-day sweep inside al-Hol backed by US troops. At least 125 people have been arrested.
Since then, McKenzie said Friday, security has improved at the camp. But, he added, security does not really affect youth empowerment there.
“That’s what worries me,” he said, as he stood in a place in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border. “The end of ISIL until, touching these young people and turning them around – in such a way that unless we find a way back – makes us pay lower prices on the road.”
When McKenzie passed through eastern Syria, representing four U.S. forces, his message was brief and straightforward – US troops remained in Syria to fight the ISIL remnants, so the fighters could no longer join. ISIL bags are still in operation, especially west of the Euphrates River in many Syrian government-controlled areas under President Bashar al-Assad.
“Outside and in the camps, the root causes of poverty and the insurgent groups that started IS are still there,” said Brigadier-General Richard Bell, deputy chief of the ISIL-led coalition in Iraq and Syria, who accompanied McKenzie.
McKenzie said it was important to continue to pressure the military “because ISIS still intends to attack the United States”.
“We want to prevent this from happening.”