5 ISIS Enclaves Remain in Central, Eastern Syria

To this day, ISIS controls five isolated pockets in Syria, the largest of which is located near the Ithria village in Hama province. The other four enclaves are situated south of Raqqa province, in Palmyra’s countryside, near borders with Iraq and south of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

Since the beginning of 2021, ISIS staged 66 military operations against areas controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern and eastern Syria, said a report published by North Press.

The campaigns included eight operations in Raqqa and its countryside, six operations in the Hasakah countryside, 41 operations in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, and 11 operations in the western and northern countryside of Deir Ezzor.

50 people were killed and about 16 survived the attacks, with some suffering injuries that caused them physical disabilities.

East of Hasakah province, al-Hol camp’s administration accused ISIS off committing 29 murders since the beginning of 2021. Most of the victims were Iraqi refugees.

Also in Hasakah, the US-led International Coalition has launched a dramatic expansion of a large detention facility for ISIS fighters.

The effort will double in size the current facility, a series of three converted school buildings that holds roughly 5,000 prisoners from 50 different Arab and Western nationalities. Iraqis make up the majority of those detained.

Operated the SDF, the makeshift prison’s expansion will help in redistributing thousands of ISIS inmates in a way that meets Red Cross standards, Fener al-Kait, co-head of foreign affairs at the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, also known as Rojava, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The goal of the expansion is to enhance security and prevent a mass breakout at the SDF-run facility, added al-Kait, explaining that overcrowding presents a serious challenge for officers guarding the prison.

Al-Kait also revealed that the UK will oversee the expansion and provide logistical support.

“We are cooperating with the British government to establish detention facilities that meet international standards,” he said, stressing that ISIS inmates pose a great danger.

“We need international support to secure these detention centers,” added al-Kait, but argued that shoring up the facility in Hasakah is not enough to resolve the status of ISIS prisoners and their families.

In 2019, Rojava handed over 170 ISIS wives and 177 of their children to governments in their home countries. The Kurdish administration also extradited 246 ISIS wives and 246 children in 2020.

Deeming the figures low, al-Kait urged the international community to provide radical solutions.

He warned that terrorist attacks and murders are on the rise in camps holding the families of ISIS fighters in northeastern Syria.

“ISIS has started rebuilding its ranks inside and outside camps,” said al-Kait.

Al-Kaait revealed that Rojava, alongside European governments, is studying the formation of a special international court to try ISIS prisoners and women involved in combat operations.

He said that EU countries with nationals detained in SDF-prisons are being approached to back the establishment of such a court.

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