The Kurds emptied ISIS prison to avenge US abandonment. This according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar who said on Monday that the Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters had emptied a jail holding Islamic State prisoners in a part of Syria where Ankara is mounting an offensive. He added that somebody abducted the prisoners there.
Turkey launched a cross-border operation against the YPG militia in northeastern Syria last week, after U.S. President Donald Trump decided to withdraw forces from two posts in the area. A move that drew strong international criticism.
The Turkish assault has prompted alarm that it could allow Islamic State (IS) militants to escape Kurdish-run prisons in northern Syria and regroup. Ankara has dismissed those concerns. The Kurdish YPG, however, emptied the jail possibly to draw the United States back into Syria.
The Kurds would benefit trading the inmates with the Assad government, which can then blackmail Europe with for reconstruction funds.
Turkey’s stated objective is to clear its southern frontier region of the YPG. Turkey views the YPG as a terrorist organization. Its main objective is to form a “safe zone” 30 km (20 miles) into Syrian territory where it wants to settle millions of Syrian refugees. Ankara also pledged to take responsibility for IS militants within the “safe zone” only.
THE KURDS EMPTIED ISIS PRISON
Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Monday, Akar said the YPG had emptied the only Islamic State prison that Turkish forces had so far reached in the envisaged “safe zone” area. He added that someone had already removed the inmates. The Kurds would benefit trading the inmates with the Assad government, which can then blackmail Europe with for reconstruction funds.
As you know, there is a prison issue on this Daesh (Islamic State) topic. We are determined to show the utmost effort on these prisons. However, there was only one prison in our region, a Daesh prison. When we went there, we saw that it had been emptied by the YPG and the Islamic State militants there had been abducted. We determined this through photographs and film, talked to our counterpart, and will continue to do so.
Akar did not say how many prisoners had been abducted from the jail; nor did he elaborate on who had taken the prisoners and where. There was no immediate YPG comment.
Trump, providing no evidence, tweeted on Monday that Kurdish forces might be freeing IS prisoners deliberately to lure U.S. troops back into the region. Escaped fighters could be “easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly”, Trump said.
Later on Monday, Turkish media broadcast footage of what it said was the prison, which the YPG emptied in central Tel Abyad, along the Turkish border. The footage below showed Turkish soldiers roaming through an empty building with jail cells built inside.
The fighting has raised Western concerns that the Kurds, holding large tracts of northern Syria previously controlled by Islamic State, would be unable to keep thousands of jihadists in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps. Others believed the Kurds to intentionally empty the prisons under their control to avenge US abandonment.
According to the Kurds, some 785 IS foreigners escaped a camp at Ain Issa. A dissident war monitor said around 100 people had escaped.