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Women Reportedly Linked to IS Set Syria Camp on Fire

FILE - Women and children walk at Roj camp, where relatives of people suspected of belonging to the Islamic State group are held, in the countryside near al-Malikiyah in Syria's northeastern Hasakah province, March 28, 2021.

Dozens of women linked to the Islamic State (IS) terror group set several tents on fire Wednesday in a refugee camp in northeast Syria, a local security source told VOA.

The arson reportedly caused damage to at least 16 tents in the Roj camp, which holds nearly 2,500 women and children with ties to IS militants. No casualties were reported.

A camp official, who requested anonymity, said fighters were quick to respond by putting out the fire and containing the situation.

In recent days, tensions have escalated between families of IS fighters and local security forces inside the camp. A protest preceding the fire was staged by dozens of women who reportedly hurled stones at the camp's security forces.

The camp official said the U.S.-Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has deployed female anti-terror units to control the situation inside the camp.

Roj is one of several detention camps in northeast Syria that have been housing thousands of people, including many foreign nationals, since the SDF and the anti-IS global coalition declared the territorial defeat of the terror group in March 2019.

Local authorities are urging countries to repatriate their citizens from Roj, al-Hol and other detention camps in northeast Syria. While some have been returned to their countries of origin, most of them are still held in the war-torn country.

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"Many women held at the Roj camp are still strict believers of Daesh's radical ideology," said Dilbirin Khelo, a political analyst based in Qamishli, Syria, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

"Every time there is a Turkish threat against northeast Syria, these women think they might have a chance to be freed, so they cause trouble, hoping that chaos will help them flee the camp," he told VOA.

Turkish officials have recently increased their threats for a possible military incursion in northeast Syria against SDF-linked Kurdish forces, whom they consider to be terrorists.