Camp for Iraqis and Syrians fleeing caliphate flooded by families of Isis fighters, brewing deeper problems
The vast scale of al-Hawl can be seen from miles away, on the road that leads to the camp from the west. The white tents housing the displaced women and children of Islamic State stretch out over the dusty landscape far beyond the adjacent towns outskirts, the furthest away encroaching upon the foot of a hill.
The women of al-Hawl now call it Jabal Baghuz, or Baghuz Mountain, named for the oasis town on the Euphrates River where their husbands were finally defeated in March. Deep inside the section reserved for foreigners and beyond the control of the camps overwhelmed guards, Jabal Baghuz is now the only place where the militant groups so-called caliphate lives on. It is from here that the seeds of the Isis resurgence are being sown.
Its a timebomb waiting to go off. There is no easy solution, said General Mazloum Kobani of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the western-backed, mainly Kurdish group now responsible for administering much of Islamic States former territory. Even if the foreigners are sent home, the majority are Syrian and Iraqi detainees and if they are not deradicalised that will be a problem for many years to come.