Rojava: IDPs from former ISIS strongholds allowed to return home, ISIS supporters to be prosecuted

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From the Hasakah meeting between the Rojava Administration and Arab tribes. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Hasakah – Thousands of people have been displaced from villages and towns in Hasakah Governorate due to ongoing clashes between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

The local Rojava Self-Administration held on Saturday an extended meeting that included SDF leaders and delegations from Arab and Kurdish communities in Hasakah to discuss the displacement crisis. The participants discussed the return of IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons] to areas recently liberated from ISIS.

Like dozens of other areas in Hasakah Governorate, the town of Gheybash was recaptured by the SDF after heavy fighting with ISIS. However, the battle has led to the displacement of over 5,000 civilians from the town. Saturday’s meeting concluded that those IDPs should return home after the town was cleared.

The Syrian Democratic Forces were able to liberate most of Hasakah Governorate from ISIS militants over the past year.

Hussein Azam, Deputy Chief of Cezire Canton – Rojava Administration, said: “The town of Gheybash, located near Tel Temir town [in Hasakah], had seen a mass displacement among civilians due to ISIS attacks.”

Adam told ARA News that some of the local men had joined ISIS when the group was in control of the town. “Unfortunately, some of the residents had joined ISIS. Today we held talks about the possible ways of returning the displaced innocent civilians.”

Tala Agoud al-Talla, leader of the Arab Bagara Tribe in northeastern Syria, said the weren’t aware of the precedes of ISIS sleeper cells among the community of Gheybash.

“We were not aware that there’ve been ISIS-linked sleeper cells in the area,” the tribal leader told ARA News.

“Only when the People’s Protection Units (YPG) –main Kurdish faction within the SDF– entered our town we became aware of the presence of such sleeper cells. Even the families of those radicals haven’t been aware that their sons have joined ISIS,” al-Talla said. “We consider ISIS as an international terrorism group.”

The YPG spokesman Lawand Hesake said in an interview with ARA News that they’ll help the IDPs to return to homs, but those suspected of joining ISIS or supporting the radical group “will be prosecuted.”

“Only those innocent civilians will be allowed to return to Gheybash town, but anyone involved in ISIS-linked activities won’t be allowed to return to the town,” he said. “Everyone involved in pro-ISIS terrorist activities is on the wanted-lists of the Asayish, YPG and local intelligence agencies.”

Meanwhile, Omar Attiyah, a citizen from Gheybash, denied reports that suggested that some people from the town had supported or even joined ISIS when the group was in control there.

“Some people believe that we, the people of Gheybash, have betrayed our homeland. But nobody is fully aware of the hardships our people have endured beside the massive displacement,” Attiyah told ARA News.

Kurds Arrest ISIS Supporters 

Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Tuesday arrested a number of people in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah Governorate, suspected of ties to the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group.

The YPG captured at least five people in Shaddadi city south of Hasakah. The Kurdish forces said the suspects had ties to ISIS.

“They were ISIS supporters. According to security sources, the suspects have been planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Shaddadi,” local media activist Ghassan Abdelaziz told ARA News.

Shaddadi city was captured by the YPG and allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in February last year, after heavy fighting with ISIS. The progress came after the local troops, supported by an air cover from the U.S.-led coalition, cut off the main ISIS supply route in al-Hawl near Syria’s northeastern border with Iraq.

However, since then ISIS has been trying to infiltrate into the area, launching mortar and car bomb attacks.

“After failed attempts to regain positions in southern Hasakah, ISIS now tries to use some sleeper cells in areas like Shaddadi,” Abdelaziz told ARA News. “The Kurdish forces have a serious challenge now to reveal such cells in the liberated areas.”

Reporting by: Qehreman Miste | Source: ARA News 

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