The US military sought to take custody of some 50 imprisoned Daesh “high-value” members and relocate them for prosecution, but the Kurds have refused to hand them over. In the meantime, an estimated 500-750 purported Daesh family members have escaped from a Kurdish detention camp during the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.
Syrian Kurdish forces are abandoning detention camps in Northern Syria, as Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian forces advance on Kurdish positions, The New York Times reported Sunday.
In one incident, a major detention camp at Ain Eissa (Ayn Isa), located at the southernmost edge of the safe zone that Turkey seeks to establish in Syria was left unguarded after a Turkish airstrike, the report says, citing camp administrator Jalal al-Iyaf.
The chaos following the airstrike allowed over 500 reported relatives of Daesh fighters to escape. Kurdish officials also reported a Daesh flag displayed at an undisclosed location between the camp and the Turkish border. A Guardian report claimed the figure was closer to 750 escapees.
The US military has reportedly failed to take custody of at least 50 “high value” Daesh targets that were in Kurdish custody, after the Kurds refused to cooperate with the Americans who hastily retreated from the hot zone under President Trump’s order, the report says, citing two US officials.
US forces took custody of and relocated just two British-born Daesh fighters, from a loose-knit group dubbed the “Beatles,” because there was already a clear rendition plan in place to take them to US territory for prosecution, officials said.
The Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) blame Trump for the withdrawal of some 1000 US troops from endangered Kurdish-controlled regions in Northern Syria. The SDF consider Trump and America’s retreat a betrayal, the report says. In what appears to be deliberate retaliation, the SDF has refused to allow the Pentagon to remove the remaining five-dozen Daesh high-value targets.
According to The New York Times’ sources, it would be impossible for the United States to evacuate them now because of the Turkish operation even if the Kurdish units provided Washington with such an opportunity.
The Kurds had established a network of ad-hoc prisons and detention camps north of the Euphrates to house captured Daesh members and their families. According to the Times report, the prison network holds some 11,000 fighters – mostly Syrian and Iraqi Arabs. The Washington Post report also says that some 70,000 women and children, allegedly the family members of Daesh fighters, are in custody in Kurdish prisons.
Earlier this week, Turkey announced it’s operation “Peace Spring” in northern Syria which aims to drive Kurdish forces from the Turkish border and establish a 30-km ‘safe zone’ along Turkey’s southern border. Ankara considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which make up the bulk of the SDF, to be a terrorist organization indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), also considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, the US, and the EU.
On Sunday, the Kurds announced that they had struck a deal with officials in Damascus to allow Syrian Armed Forces into areas north of the Euphrates. Damascus reportedly vowed to secure the Syrian border, reports of which have sparked fears of direct clashes between Syrian and Turkish military.
According to US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, US forces found themselves “caught between two opposing advancing armies,” as they retreat from the region, the Times report says.