Al-Hol IDP camp in north-eastern Syria is housing the majority of women affiliated with ISIS. They represent a serious threat in the wake of Baghdadi's death.
Al-Hol camp for internally displaced people (IDP) has been often described as a “ticking time-bomb” over the past few months as it is known to hold thousands of ISIS-affiliated people and families. This worry has been further exacerbated since the launch of the Turkish military offensive, known as “Operation Peace Spring”, on northern Syria, leaving the Kurdish-dominated political and military authorities unable to impose full control on hot spots like al-Hol camp.
The issue is particular pertinent regarding women in al-Hol, many of whom are known to be members of ISIS and are continuing to impose the terrorist group’s dogma onto those residing in the camp. The ISIS-affiliated women have set up their out courts and enacted punishments akin to those given out by the Khansaa Brigade, the women-only ISIS group that would impose the terrorist group’s harsh rules.
The past few weeks have seen an increase in violence committed by ISIS-affiliated women in al-Hol, with stabbings being reported as well as attempts to riot and escape.
A large number of the women are also known to be foreign nationals. Although a number of them have been repatriated to their countries of origin, the majority are being neglected by the states that they belong to, who prefer to leave them to stand trial in Syria for fear of a political backlash back home.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliated units have been the main military force that have kept al-Hol camp under control since the liberation of formerly ISIS-held territories in Deir ez-Zour Province, whence a large number of the ISIS-affiliated women where captured. The capacity of the SDF to manage the camp has nevertheless diminished as many of its units have been deployed to areas near the so-called “safe-zone” implemented by Turkey and Turkish-backed Syrian rebel forces in northern Syria. This has allowed for the ISIS to regroup in areas under SDF control and to pose a physical threat once more to the region.