A Syrian Kurdish official and an opposition war monitoring group say at least three people have been killed in clashes between US-backed Kurdish fighters and members of the Islamic State group.
BEIRUT – Clashes between US-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters and members of the Islamic State group have killed at least three people inside a troubled camp in northeastern Syria where IS families live, local Kurdish authorities and an opposition war observer said Tuesday.
The war involved pistols, automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, he said, adding that the situation was still tense. Thousands of women and children – mostly wives, widows and children of IS members – have been held for years in the vast Al-Hall camp.
The Kurdish police force, known as Asayesh, said its members were attacked and fired upon, killing one IS member and wounding others. It said police were alert during the clashes because IS fighters hid among civilians. Police did not provide casualty figures for civilians.
Syrian Kurdish fighters have intensified their visits to al-Hole in recent weeks, following an IS attack on a prison in the Hasakah provincial capital in late January, where about 3,000 militants and juveniles are being held.
The attack sparked a 10-day battle between US-backed fighters and IS militants that killed about 500 people before the situation was brought under control. It was the biggest attack by IS since the fall of the group’s so-called Islamic “caliphate” in 2019 and raised fears that it could stage a comeback.
After Sunday night’s clashes, Kurdish fighters surrounded the area to prevent any IS gunmen from fleeing, Ahmed said, without giving any casualty figures.
A British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an observer of the war, said an IS fighter was killed along with a woman and a child. The Observatory said four women and six children were injured.
Kurdish fighters imposed a curfew inside the camp, the Observatory added, adding that the fighting was concentrated in the homes of family members of Iraqi and Syrian IS fighters.
About 50,000 Syrians and Iraqis are in al-Hole. About 20,000 of them are children and the rest are mostly women.
A separate and heavily guarded area near the camp, known as the “Annex”, holds about 2,000 women from 57 other countries, including about 8,000 children. The women in the annex are considered to be the most deadly IS supporters
In February, the women of al-Hole tried to abduct their Kurdish guards, resulting in a shooting that left one child dead and several others injured.
IS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi was killed in January, just days after the attack. U.S. officials say he blew himself up with members of his family as U.S. forces raided his hideout in the northwestern Syrian city of Atmeh, near the Turkish border.
The Islamic State group has named Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as its new leader.