Thousands of Islamic State prisoners are poised to escape their Kurdish captors while Turkey assaults northern Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces hold about 11,000 ISIS prisoners spread across more than 30 detention centers, many located close to the Turkish border and in the assault path. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched “Operation Peace Spring” on Wednesday, reporting the news himself on Twitter.
The White House pulled United States forces from northeast Syria on Sunday, saying Turkey would be responsible “for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years.”
President Trump suggested Monday where the captives should go.
“I said I want them to go back to Germany. To France. To the different European countries from where they came,” Trump said. “And I said to the European countries, I said to all of them, take the people back. And they said, ‘No, no, no, we don’t want them back.’ I said they came from Germany. They came from France. Take them back”.
“So I told President Erdoğan it’s gonna be your responsibility,” Trump said. “So who is responsible? It’s really Russia. It’s Turkey. It’s Iran. It’s Iraq. And it’s Syria”.
But no agreement seems to be in place for a prisoner transfer between Turkey and the YPG. Turkey considers the YPG an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ party, or PKK, a separatist movement that battled the Turkish government for decades. An expected clash between the YPG and Turkey would create an opportunity for ISIS, observers said.
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