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There is a prison in Syria for the wives and children of ISIS fighters. Boys are transferred when they turn 12

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In a gigantic prison for women and children in northern Syria, the wives of the so-called fighters have been held for years without trial or sentence. Islamic State together with children. Closed, isolated in difficult conditions, they only become radicalized. That is why their sons, when they turn 12, are taken away from them and locked up in another center – one that is supposed to integrate them with society.

The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is a huge prison for women and children captured after the defeat of ISIS. Five years after the fall of the caliphate, terrorist ideology still lives there. Authorities warn it is a ticking time bomb. Over 40,000 people live there. About 6,000 foreigners live in the most dangerous part.

CNN journalists were the first to be admitted to this prison, run by the United States and the Syrian Democratic Forces. The women detained there come from over 60 different countries.

Several of them raise their right thumbs to the cameras as a symbol of solidarity with the Islamic State.

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When the boys turn 12, they are taken away

One of the women interviewed claims that she does not regret joining ISIS. He complains that the conditions in the camp are terrible. – Even among enemies, women and children should be treated appropriately – he points out.

Most of the inhabitants are children who found themselves here through no fault of their own. The United Nations called this place a stain on the conscience of humanity. It is a prison where women and children are held without trial or sentence.

At one point, a group of women stopped CNN journalists with an impassioned request. One woman's son was arrested trying to escape from the camp. The woman asked if she could get her son back, who was in prison and was 10 years old. When the boys turn 12, they are taken away.

It's a disturbing story that journalists hear time and time again. The Syrian Democratic Forces say their policy is to separate boys at puberty because they are radicalized by their mothers.

Teenagers are to be indoctrinated and married

Syrian forces obtained a video of a training session for children in the camp. Camp authorities say young teenagers are being married off to create the next generation of ISIS fighters, which they say could explain about 60 births each month.

This is what the place where some of the taken boys look like – the Orkesz integration center. Conditions there are much better than in the camps, but there are only 154 beds and they are all occupied.

Shamil Chakar grew up in Cologne, Germany, until his parents took the family to the ISIS capital, Raqqa. The shrapnel that hit him in the head caused Shamil to have memory problems.

In Racca, Shamil lived in a camp with his mother and siblings. A few years ago, security forces raided their tent in the middle of the night.

– A man came and picked me up and tied my hands behind my back. My mother screamed. She said: leave him. I didn't want to go with them. He pushed me and said put your shoes on. I didn't assume it. Then he hit me, says Shamil.

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The aim of the centers is to integrate with society

The boy named Islam comes from Dagestan, Russia, and is one of the center's youngest residents. He says he is only 12 years old. He's been here for about three or four months. He was taken from his mother. He doesn't even know his name.

Human rights groups said the separations were an appalling violation of international law.

The top general of the Syrian Democratic Forces defends this policy. “Instead of condemning what we are doing and calling it a violation of human rights, these organizations should help us in our program that we have been running for years to integrate these children,” said the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, General Mazloum Abdi.

Part of the problem seems to be that once these young boys turn 18, they have nowhere to go. Especially if they cannot return to their home countries, so some of them end up in prison.

“It's not our policy to put them in jail at 18.” The reality is that the goal is to reintegrate them into society, says Mazloum Abdi.

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Main photo source: CNN



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