Iraq takes back 111 ISIS-linked families from Syria

Families have been moved to Al Jadaa camp south of Mosul

A Syrian girl sits in a truck after being released from the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected Islamic State (IS) group fighters, in the northeastern Syrian Hasakeh governorate, on June 2, 2021.  / AFP / Delil SOULEIMAN

Iraqi authorities have repatriated 111 families linked to ISIS from a Kurdish-run camp in northern Syria, a local official said on Monday.

They arrived on Saturday and were transferred to Al Jadaa camp south of Mosul, in Nineveh province, the official said.

Since May 2021, at least 339 families linked to ISIS have been moved from Al Hol camp in north-east Syria to Al Jadaa which holds about 7,500 internally displaced people.

These include families of extremists, some of whom hail from other parts of Iraq, including the provinces of Salaheddine and Ramadi, Iraqi authorities say.

The prospect of their return to their places of origin has sparked concern among residents who survived the brutal rule of ISIS when it occupied a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017.

In late 2017, Iraq declared "victory" over ISIS after driving the extremists from all urban areas, with support from a US-led coalition.

Iraqi authorities announced last month their intention to close Al Jadaa, the last camp sheltering displaced people in the country, outside the autonomous region of Kurdistan.

But the process is long and facing resistance from local populations who do not want ISIS families among them.

The International Organisation for Migration says six million Iraqis were displaced during ISIS's rule.

About 1.2 million of them have still not been able to go home, including more than 100,000 who live outside camps in "informal sites".

Updated: January 11th 2022, 12:53 AM