Families of Islamic State Fighters Escape from Syrian Camp, What Happens Next?
One of the main concerns immediately after President Trump announced he was pulling the final U.S. troops out of Syria was what would happen with the camps which have been filled with families of ISIS members who were captured. Would they return to ISIS family members and a life of terrorism and extremism? The Wall Street Journal has reported that those fears have become reality:
Hundreds of foreign women and children linked to Islamic State escaped from a camp in northeastern Syria when Turkish-backed fighters attacked it, U.S.- backed Kurdish forces controlling the area said, raising fears that the Turkish offensive will undermine American efforts to eliminate the extremist group.
There are two very different directions analysts believe the escaped families can lead to. “Despite the dangers, a weakened and widely loathed Islamic State will be hard-pressed to repeat its 2014 campaign, when it seized a vast swath of Iraq and Syria and proclaimed a caliphate, some analysts say.” Alex Mello, a security analyst at energy consulting firm Horizon Client Access said, “The environment in Iraq and Syria now is completely different and ISIS escapees would have difficulty re-embedding themselves within local Sunni communities.” He continued “It’s still a significant risk, but in my view probably won’t lead to rapid ISIS resurgence.”
However, the Kurdish-led militia, known as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), warned that since Turkey began its operation into Syria, “they are no longer in a position to guard the camps and prisons where thousands of Islamic State members who were captured on the battlefield are being held.”
An SDF spokesman said of the camp escapees, “No, you should not expect us to take care of your terrorist citizens while you have no issues with seeing our children getting killed, our people displaced and our region getting ethnically cleansed.”
Iraq also has concerns as to whether “terrorists who may get into Iraq would be able to coordinate with their sleeper cells in Iraq” said Iraqi Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji. “Iraq was coordinating closely with Turkey, Syria, the coalition and the SDF so they could respond quickly in the event of any jailbreak. Iraq is also deploying more troops to the border.”
Continue Reading: Wall Street Journal