“Anarchy” As 750 ISIS Prisoners Escape Syria Camp After Turkish Shelling
International reports as well as Turkish media has confirmed a mass ISIS prison break at a Syrian Kurdish administered camp following shelling on the area by Turkey’s military. Nearly 800 prisoners with links to the Islamic State reportedly fled, though one monitoring group put the number of those who ultimately successfully escaped at 100.
The Guardian reported of the Sunday incident:
At least 750 people with suspected links to Islamic State have reportedly fled a displacement camp in north-east Syria, local officials have said, raising fears that the Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces in the area could lead Isis to regain strength amid the chaos.
Sources said the detainees began to riot and panic after the secure compound came under Turkish shelling, which further resulted in a state of “anarchy” at the camp.
Authorities say “ISIS sleeper cells” took advantage of the situation to mount a large scale prison break, attacking remaining prison guards who had not already fled to defensive positions amid the shelling.
Syrian Kurdish authorites say say 249 women and 700 children of the “caliphate” had been held at the Ain Issa camp, and that US forces subsequently evacuated the remainder of the camp’s inhabitants to another secure location after the incident. Reuters, citing a Syrian war monitor, suggested that not all of the some 750 who fled ultimately were able to escape:
Around 100 people – women affiliated with Islamic State and their children – have escaped from a camp guarded by Syrian Kurdish-led security forces in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Images published by the Syrian opposition media outlet SOHR showed ISIS families escaping Ain Issa by running through the nearby countryside.
Ain Issa had a prior population of over 200,000 but has since been emptied of nearly all of its civilian residents. Scores of civilian casualties have resulted from the Turkish offensive, now in its fifth day, which has come under condemnation by almost every country.
Current and former US defense officials have warned of an “ISIS resurgence” amid the US troop draw down and Turkish invasion of the region, especially after SDF leaders warned its fighters can no longer safely guard the thousands of ISIS prisoners in custody.
Estimates commonly put the number of imprisoned ISIS terrorists in US-SDF custody in the northeast Syria at 11,000.
Further some 70,000 family members believed linked to the former ‘caliphate’ are being held at the sprawling al-Hol camp, also under threat after internal camp rioting has been reported there.
Turkey, for its part, has claimed that “YPG/PKK” forces deliberately set the Ain Issa camp on fire, denying Western reports that it came under Turkish shelling.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has said sanctions on Turkey are “ready to go” as Erdogan has refused to uphold his “responsibilities” related to the operation, which including promises to take custody of ISIS prisoners in the area. Trump has threatened reprisals should Turkey allow even one terrorist to go free.
Sun, 10/13/2019 – 12:00
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