Four Turkish nationals — Hatice Güneş, Hafsa Güneş, Beyza Güneş and Berire Güneş — on Dec. 19 escaped from the Al Hol camp in northeastern Syria, which holds more than 68,000 prisoners, most of whom are linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to a report published by The Investigative Journal on Friday.
“People try to escape every day, and people do escape every week,” a camp administrator told the journal. She said that while a number of ISIL escapees wanted to settle in Idlib or Deir Ezzor, with the latter suffering growing insecurity and frequent attacks by ISIL sleeper cells, most wanted to cross the border into Turkey.
A journalist living in Turkey contacted The Investigative Journal and offered information detailing one such escape on the condition of anonymity. “I’ve faced so many death threats for my work,” the journalist said. “And so I cannot release this information myself.”
The escape was confirmed to the journal by a source from the Syria Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish militia in Syria that was allied with US soldiers in fight against ISIL.
According to the journalist, the women slipped out of the camp, and with the help of a smuggler went to Manbij and then Jarabulus. “Jarabulus is occupied by Turkish forces,” the journalist said. “And these women went to the Turkish police there. The Turkish police helped their crossing into Turkey. They are free in Turkey now.”
According to the journalist, ISIL members of Turkish nationality are routinely assisted by Turkish military and police in occupied Afrin and Jarabulus in escaping to Turkey. “I started paying close attention to how Turkey deals with ISIL members after noticing that ISIL members, especially ISIL leaders, were arrested in Turkey and then quickly released after,” the journalist said.
“I have much more information, but as I’m living in Turkey, it’s too dangerous for me to share it. They wouldn’t just arrest me. I think they would kill me.”