Sweden wants to deepen cooperation with northeastern Syria

Mazlum Abdi and Bedran Çiya Kurd of the Autonomous Administration talked with Swedish Defense Minister. Both sides agreed that bilateral relations and existing support mechanisms on military, political and humanitarian issues need to be further developed.

The general commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Mazlum Abdi, and the deputy co-chairman of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Bedran Çiya Kurd, talked via video conference with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist on the situation in the autonomous areas. The agenda included topics such as security and stability in northern and eastern Syria, humanitarian issues and starting points for deepening cooperation at the security level.

Peace and stability without fear

Mazlum Abdi stressed the urgent need for a long-term solution for Syria. What the people needed, he said, was peace and stability without fear. He pointed out that concrete support through aid projects would also help reduce the influence of ISIS. Abdi also provided Sweden's defense minister with detailed information on the results of the humanitarian security operation in the Hol refugee and internment camp. The camp, with more than 60,000 people, a large proportion of them minors, has become a dangerous breeding ground for ISIS as a new generation of jihadists is growing up there. Since late March, the SDF has been targeting militia cell structures that are driving ISIS reorganization in the camp. Around 200 Islamists have already been captured.

Efforts for repatriations to countries of origin

"There are also intensive efforts to bring about with our neighbors and Western countries to take back all their nationals interned in Hol. This is because it is one of the most overcrowded and dangerous camps in the entire Middle East," Abdi said. In this context, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist underlined that ISIS is not finished, saying, "Probably the militia would return in an even more extreme form if it had the opportunity. The international coalition must act more effectively against the terrorist organization and find new approaches to achieve better results in the fight against ISIS.”

Restored infrastructure to help end ISIS

"Restoring the infrastructure and providing the population with a safe and dignified life will contribute significantly to dismantling the organization," the politician from Sweden's Social Democratic Party added. He also stressed the need to repatriate foreign jihadists to their countries of origin - although Sweden itself has so far agreed to only seven repatriations. All of the cases involved the children of ISIS members with Swedish citizenship who died in Syria. At least 113 nationals of the Scandinavian country remain in Camp Hol.

Financial resources needed for comprehensive reconstruction

Bedran Çiya Kurd focused on the enormous reconstruction challenges facing Syria after ten years of war, which go beyond the renewal of infrastructure and housing. He stated that the international community must finally make funds available for the comprehensive reconstruction of the country. Urgent support is currently needed above all in the fight against the Corona pandemic, he said. Sweden and the autonomous administration want to continue the talks.

During the meeting, both sides agreed that bilateral relations and existing support mechanisms on military, political and humanitarian issues need to be further developed.