Kurdish-led authorities released hundreds of ISIL (ISIS) fighters imprisoned in northern Syria as part of a general amnesty in the region controlled by a United States-backed militia.
Amina Omar, the head of the Syrian Democratic Council, told reporters at a news conference in the town of Qamishli that ISIL members who were released have “no blood on their hands” and have all repented joining ISIL at some point.
The are people who can be reformed, Omar said shortly before the men were freed.
The Syrian Democratic Council said the 631 prisoners were released Thursday while 253 others will have their terms cut in half.
Omar added all those freed are Syrians who have served at least half of their prison sentences.
The releases came after repeated calls from the Arab tribes that dominate much of the region administered by the Kurds, including the areas near the Iraqi border where ISIL made its bloody last stand in 2019.
AFP news agency correspondents outside the Alaya detention facility on the outskirts of Qamishli saw dozens of detainees leave the premises and reunite with relatives who had come to meet them.
“My brother has been in jail for eight months for women trafficking in Al-Hol camp,” Ahmad al-Hussein said, in reference to the largest detention facility in the region.
Kurdish authorities currently operate more than two dozen prisons scattered across northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 ISIL fighters.
Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans, according to Al Jazeera reports.