A top US Middle East commander warned on Saturday that Kurdish forces- run prison camps for Islamic State fighters and their families could harbor an army in detention, being an incubator for radicalism.
Tens of thousands of people, including relatives of extremist militants, have been detained in Syrian camps run by the Kurdish authorities.
General Michael Kurilla, head of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), saw the looming threat posed by the detained ISIS fighters while visiting Ghwayran prison in the city of Hasakeh, where heavy fighting resulting in hundreds of deaths occurred last year during a violent prison-break attempt.
CENTCOM cited SDF commanders and administrators at Ghwayran prison in describing the detainees as a ticking time bomb of unrepentant extremists, subject to further radicalization to violence.
Gen. Kurilla said in the statement that this group would pose a significant threat regionally and beyond if freed because, between those detained in Syria and Iraq, it is a veritable IS army in detention.
Among the camps Gen Kurilla also visited are the Kurdish-run camps of Roj, where relatives of suspected terrorists are held, and the notorious Al Hol, overseen by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) understaffed and poorly resourced Kurdish security troops, where at least 10,000 foreign fighters have been living in squalid conditions.
CENTCOM underscored that children in Al Hol are in daily danger of indoctrination to violence, adding that teenagers with foreign parents want to return to their country of origin.
According to Save the Children’s data, about 7,000 children of foreign terrorists are put at risk on a daily basis in overcrowded detention camps in northeast Syria, where they’re trapped in desperate conditions.
Calling Al Hol a flashpoint of human suffering, Gen Kurilla urged the repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of the detained back into their countries.
According to US estimates, as many as 20,000 foreigners from 85 countries are thought to have joined the group following the rapid takeover by IS of about a third of Iraq and Syria at the height of the conflict.
The pleas of Syrian-Kurdish authorities with foreign governments to repatriate their citizens who are detained in the camps have so far proved to be mainly in vain.