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US-backed Syrian fighters rescued tens of thousands of women and children after a weeks-long raid on a refugee camp in northern Syria.
Dozens of militants were subsequently arrested and an unspecified number of weapons were seized following the 24-day operation in al-Hol camp conducted by US-backed internal security forces and the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
In total, around 50,000 Syrians and Iraqis lived in the camp tents, including around 20,000 children. Another 2,000 women lived in a separate annex of the camp along with 8,000 children. The women of the second group came from 57 different countries and are believed to be supporters of the terrorist group IS.
The camp was mainly used by IS fighters for recruiting and training the next generation of fighters to form another Islamic State caliphate, according to domestic security forces. The al-Hol camp is Syria’s largest refugee camp, the Washington Post reported.
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“The operation was launched following the growing crimes of killing and torture committed by ISIS cells against the camp’s residents,” said US-backed forces, referring to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
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“ISIS has mainly depended on women and children, as real resources directly linked to ISIS leaders, to maintain the extremist ideology of ISIS and spread it in the field”, adds the statement.
Extremists in the camp killed 44 of its residents and aid workers, they also said.
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In 2019, the United States and its partners in the Middle East declared victory over the terrorist group IS, ending its caliphate rule across the Iraq-Syria border.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.