Turkey Launches Syrian Offensive,  U.S. Takes ISIS Detainees


10 Oct 2019 – SOUFAN – Turkey launched an offensive in northeast Syria on Wednesday, defying an international outcry over the threat the operation posed to Kurdish forces in the region and to the broader campaign against ISIS. The Turkish military has hit 181 targets of the Kurdish militia with its air force and artillery since the start of operation, the ministry said. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the operation, code named Peace Spring, would “eliminate the terror threat towards [Turkey]” from ISIS and Kurdish militants. Erdogan said on Twitter that Turkey would destroy the “terror corridor” some fighters were seeking to establish on the country’s southern border. He added that he would finally establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria that would allow refugees to return home, saying that Turkey’s aim was to “bring peace to the region.” However, the SDF have halted operations against ISIS, U.S. officials and a Kurdish military source said on Wednesday.

The U.S. military is moving to take as many as several dozen ISIS detainees out of prisons run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, including two British men already in custody who are notorious for their roles in the torture and killing of Western hostages, according to U.S. officials. El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey were being detained with the goal of putting them on trial in the United States, a senior U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official said the two men had been taken to Iraq; other officials said they and other high-value detainees were being placed in U.S. military custody, but could not say where they were being taken.

The U.S. military reportedly is not planning to intervene if the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) abandon prisons holding ISIS members in Syria, U.S. officials said Tuesday. Kurdish officials said that guards were still in place at the more than 20 prisons and camps under their control but were prepared to move, raising the possibility that about 11,000 militants and their families could escape. Erdogan’s senior adviser, Gulner Aybet, said on Wednesday “President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is… he knows what the scope of this operation is.” Financial Times, NBC News, Washington Post, New York Times, Reuters, Foreign Policy, CNN
The Atlantic: How ISIS Returns
Lawfare: Will Abandoning the Kurds Result in the Mass Release of Islamic State Fighters?
The Guardian: Women and Children Expected to ‘Break Out’ from al-Hawl Camp
NBC News: Intel Officials Say ISIS Could Regroup After U.S. ‘Betrayal’ of Kurds in Syria

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