With looming challenges in Syria, the US Department of Defense (DoD) is preparing to address them as it faces military challenges and threats to civil security. The US and its coalition partners said they are proceeding with their mission in Syria to “Defeat ISIS.” However, more than 10,000 ISIS combatants are hosted in “makeshift detention facilities” and approximately 60,000 displaced civilians. The latter is housed in the al-Hol and al-Roj camps. These factors continue to pose a significant threat. 

During a conversation held at the Middle East Institute in Washington, District of Columbia, Dana Stroul, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, stated that: “The threat which we all know is that ISIS views the detention facilities where its fighters are housed as the population to reconstitute its army.” Stroul also emphasized in her statement that ISIS views al-Hol and al-Roj facilities, along with the children and teenagers housed in those camps, as the organization’s “future generation.”

Dana L. Stroul, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East. (Source: US Department of Defense, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

According to Stroul, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) soon crumbled, and as a result, there were insufficient facilities to imprison all of the seized ISIS fighters. These fighters were held in makeshift detention facilities, such as schools or office buildings.

She stated that the detention camps are now overcrowded and unsafe and are being policed by the Syrian Democratic Forces. In addition, they are undergoing tremendous strain from armed military foes, a worsening economy “exacerbated by a historic drought,” and a potential deployment by Turkey in northern Syria.