ISIS's Opportunity in Northern Syria
Key Takeaway: ISIS has a unique and dangerous opportunity to exploit conditions in detention facilities and internally displaced persons’ camps across Northern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) do not have adequate resources to detain the suspected 9,000 ISIS fighters and 63,000 ISIS family members currently housed in a network of detention facilities and internally displaced persons camps. The Al-Hawl Camp alone is now over capacity by roughly 30,000 individuals and holds a combustible mix of ideologically committed ISIS family members and other civilians. Female ISIS members within the camp have attacked guards and other civilians. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assesses that ISIS is already networking within Al-Hawl. ISIS may attempt a breakout of both detained fighters and displaced persons as part of its 2019 Ramadan campaign and/or its wider resurgent campaign in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. must urgently help the SDF adequately secure these facilities and process their inhabitants.