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Access to Syrian camp reveals forgotten children left to IS influence

Children gather outside their tents at al-Hol camp, which houses families and sympathizers of the Islamic State group, in Hasakeh province, Syria, May 1, 2021. For more than two years some 27,000 children have languished in the camp. Most of them not yet teenagers, they are spending their childhood exposed to IS ideology in a limbo of miserable conditions with no schools, and seemingly no international interest in resolving their situation. (AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad)

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Bassem Mroue, Hogir Al Abdo and Ahmad Baderkhan gained rare access to Syria’s sprawling al-Hol camp, their work shedding light on tens of thousands of forgotten kids languishing without any real opportunities or education beyond the ideology of the Islamic State group communicated to them by their mothers.

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A boy gestures with his hand to his neck in an indication of the threat of beheading, at al-Hol camp in Hasakeh province, Syria, May 1, 2021. – AP Photo / Baderkhan Ahmad

In video, photos and text, the story revealed the lives of children at the camp — which houses families of IS and IS sympathizers —and their exposure to the influence of IS, including children waving black IS flags, metal-like swords and gesturing in the form of beheadings. The story received wide play and was cited by Syria experts and academics as evidence of the perils of leaving al-Hol’s kids to their fate, and why foreign countries need to take responsibility for their nationals and repatriate them.

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