As Turkish warplanes bomb U.S.-backed Kurdish allies in northeastern Syria, the Trump Administration has yet to draw up a strategy to safeguard and maintain the more than 30 detention camps that hold tens of thousands of ISIS fighters, families and sympathizers spread across the region.
The Kurds, part of the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, control facilities holding about 11,000 ISIS detainees across northern Syria. They also run a camp for internally displaced persons known as al-Hol, in northeastern Syria, that holds nearly 70,000 people. Among them are thousands of ISIS family members, according to a recent Defense Department Inspector General’s report.
The U.S. military has no plans to take over these camps and, with only about 1,000 total troops inside Syria, is not prepared to do so, U.S. officials told TIME. If the Kurds abandon their guard posts to defend their homes against the Turkish military incursion, thousands of ISIS operatives are likely to escape, U.S. military, diplomatic and intelligence officials have concluded.
Past and present U.S. military commanders have shared that assessment directly with President Donald Trump, but he has rebuffed the warnings and demanded that Turkey take control of the camps, the officials say. Most of the camps remain outside the area that Turkey is expected to occupy, and the Kurds have said they will remain in control over the detainees. But that may prove difficult if fighting in their home territory intensifies. In early 2018, hundreds of Kurds opted to abandon fighting positions against ISIS in eastern Syria to assist Kurdish forces fighting Turkish military in another skirmish in Afrin, in northwestern Syria.
Trump maintains that Turkey can, and will, take over control of the camps as part of their offensive. “Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of …read more
Source:: Time – Politics