The Kurdish self-administration of northern and eastern Syria said that 785 foreigners of the so-called Islamic State had managed to flee the Ain Issa camp where they were being held, following Turkish bombardment.
The SDF, mostly Kurds, is holding thousands of ISIS suspects, while the area under its control in northeastern Syria is currently under constant shelling by the Turkish army since the start of the Turkish military operation.
More than 50 civilians have reportedly been killed on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border since the offensive began on Wednesday.
Ankara accuses some Kurds in northern Syria of forming terrorist groups, stressing that it seeks to expel them from the “safe area” it plans to establish on the border with a depth of about 30 kilometers in Syrian territory.
Turkey also plans to resettle more than three million Syrian refugees, currently residing in Turkey, in this region.
In another development in the Turkish operation in Syria, Harfain Khalaf, a political activist and Kurdish women’s rights activist, was among nine people killed on a road in northern Syria last Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The SDF said pro-Turkish armed groups drove Herfin out of her car and killed her, her driver and assistant, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that nine people had been killed as part of “field executions” along roads and carried out at different times.
A spokesman for the so-called Syrian National Army, a Turkish-backed armed group, denied that any of its forces had carried out the killings, saying his forces had not yet reached the area where the killings took place.
More than 100,000 Syrians have been displaced in Kurdish-controlled areas in the north of the country since Turkey began its military operation in the region, but official Kurdish estimates in the region suggest more than that of 191,000.
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria was the green light that allowed Turkish troops to push into Syrian territory and target the SDF, one of the most important Western allies in the war on IS.
What did the Kurds say?
The Turkish offensive in northern Syria is preventing prisons where thousands of ISIS suspects are being held in areas controlled by the SDF, according to senior SDF commander Redor Khalil.
“Guarding the prisons held by ISIS suspects is no longer our priority,” Khalil said. “We welcome anyone interested in the safe detention of these prisoners to sit down to find a solution to this problem.”
He said the troops would “move to protect our cities and our people.”
He warned that the Turkish military operation in northern Syria opens the door wide for IS to organize the ranks of its fighters.
He added: “Life has returned to this organization and became active in Qamishli and Hasakah.”
What is IS doing in Syria ?
Khalil’s remarks came after two bombings in the cities of al-Qamishli and al-Hasakah, claimed by the Islamic State.
Five ISIS fighters also managed to escape from a prison in the city of Qamishli amid Turkish shelling last Friday, according to the SDF.
The group announced a new campaign in Syria, which was allegedly intended to avenge the detention of its fighters in Kurdish-controlled prisons.
Kurdish forces said they were holding more than 12,000 suspected ISIS prisoners in seven prisons, at least 4,000 of them foreigners. But the locations of these prisons have yet to be revealed, with speculation that most of them are near the Turkish border.
Two camps for the families of ISIS suspects are located in the safe area that Turkey aims to establish in the Syrian deep, which are located in the city of Ain Issa and the autonomous region of northeastern Syria.
Kurdish authorities in northern Syria said discussions were under way on what action should be taken regarding the Ain Issa camp, which has been hit by Turkish bombing.
In return, Turkey announced that it would be responsible for securing the prisons of ISIS fighters it would find during its military operation.
How does the Turkish process progress?
Clashes intensified last Saturday in the vicinity of the Syrian city of Ras al-Ain amid conflicting accounts of the control of both sides, Turkish and Kurdish, on this important border city.
The Turkish army said that “its forces and its allies of the Syrian rebels tightened their control over the heart of the city,” but the SDF denied the reported fall of the city.
Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad are the main targets set by Turkey for its military operation in Syria.
Meanwhile, pro-Turkish armed groups said they took control of a strategically important road 30 kilometers from the Turkish-Syrian border, as well as a number of villages.
The SDF faces ground and air attacks along 120 km of the Turkish-Syrian border.
In a speech last Saturday, the Kurdish leader called on the United States to provide support for Kurdish fighters by closing airspace to Turkish airspace, describing his demand as a “moral obligation
Statistics of victims
The current figures for the victims of the Turkish operation in Syria are likely to increase and could not be independently verified.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about 38 civilians and 80 fighters, all Kurds, were killed in the Turkish attack.
Reports in Turkish media said 17 people, including a Syrian infant, were killed.
About 50 fighters of a pro-Turkish armed group known as the Syrian National Army were killed and one Turkish soldier was killed, Turkish reports said.
International pressure is mounting on Turkey to halt the military operation in Syria, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists Ankara is on track to complete military operations deep in Syria.
France threatened on Saturday to suspend all arms exports to Turkey, following Germany’s announcement to cut arms sales to its NATO partner.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the Turkish president in a telephone conversation that the military operation could “hinder progress against IS.”
Kurdish forces in northern Syria have made clear they feel betrayed by Trump, who has decided to withdraw US troops from areas under their control.
Trump also said he was prepared to impose sanctions on Turkey if necessary.
Protest marches took place in a number of countries around the world last Saturday condemning the Turkish attack, including marches in Paris and Berlin.
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