Syrian Kurds free hundreds of Daesh militants as part of amnesty

Men leave a Kurdish-run prison in northeast Syria in a general amnesty for low-level Daesh prisoners. (AFP)
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Updated 16 October 2020

Syrian Kurds free hundreds of Daesh militants as part of amnesty

  • Earlier this month, the Kurdish-led authority said it will allow Syrian citizens to leave a sprawling camp that houses tens of thousands of women and children, many of them linked to Daesh

BEIRUT: Kurdish-led authorities released on Thursday hundreds of militants from Daesh imprisoned in northern Syria, as part of a general amnesty in the region controlled by the US-backed fighters.
Amina Omar, the head of the Syrian National Council, told reporters that Daesh members who were released have “no blood on their hands” and have all repented joining Daesh at some point.
“They are people who can be reformed,” Omar said shortly before the men were freed.
The Syrian Democratic Council said the 631 prisoners were released Thursday while 253 others will have their terms cut in half. It said the amnesty and the release followed requests by tribal leaders in northeastern and eastern Syria.
Kurdish authorities currently operate more than two dozen detention facilities scattered across northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 Daesh fighters. Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans.
Daesh — which at the height of its power in 2014 controlled a third of both Iraq and Syria — lost its last sliver of land last year when the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces captured the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz.
Since then, the extremists have gone underground, carrying out hit-and-run attacks, mostly targeting Syrian government forces and the Kurdish-led fighters.
Earlier this month, the Kurdish-led authority said it will allow Syrian citizens to leave a sprawling camp that houses tens of thousands of women and children, many of them linked to Daesh.
Most of the detainees at Al-Hol camp are Syrian and Iraqi women and children. Another highly secured tent settlement that is part of the camp is known as the Annex and is home to some 10,000 hard-line Daesh supporters from other countries.
The overpopulated camp is home to a total of 65,000 people and has been a burden to the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish police in charge of security at the facility. Crime rates have been high inside the camp and some of the women have tried to escape.
Over the past 10 days dozens of families have left the camp.


Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

Updated 20 October 2020

Iran breaks its record for most new coronavirus cases in one day

  • Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks
TEHRAN: Iran on Tuesday reported its highest single-day toll of new coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic with more than 5,000 new infections, as the country struggles to cope with a surge in transmission.
Iran’s health ministry also reported that 322 people had died from the virus, pushing the death toll over 31,000. The new infection count on Tuesday eclipsed the previous high of 4,830 last week, shining a light on the nation’s floundering efforts to combat the virus.
Iran, which emerged early on as an epicenter of the virus, has seen its worst wave of deaths from the illness in recent weeks. Monday’s death toll shattered its previous single-day record, prompting state news outlets to declare it a “black day.”
Hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran are overflowing. Last week, health officials announced that the city had run out of intensive care beds for virus patients.
The increase comes after Iranians packed cafes and restaurants at vacation spots during recent national holidays, and after schools reopened for in-person instruction last month.
The government has resisted a total lockdown because it does not want to further weaken an economy already devastated by unprecedented US sanctions. The Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran after withdrawing in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers.
With the death toll skyrocketing, authorities are now starting to impose more restrictions. The government closed museums, libraries, beauty salons, schools and universities in Tehran earlier this month, and imposed a mask mandate outdoors.