Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria say around 785 people with links to the Islamic State group (ISIS) escaped from a displacement camp in Ain Issa on Sunday. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said “almost all suspected ISIS militants fled the camp”.
“Today at least 785 foreign ISIS members escaped from Ain Issa camp with the help of mercenaries and air cover from Turkish warplanes,” read a statement from the Kurdish administration published on Facebook.
“The mercenaries and the Turkish troops attacked the camp earlier and gave a corridor for foreign ISIS members to attack the camp security guards and escape successfully,” it added.
Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF, tweeted: “Almost all suspected ISIS militants fled the camp.”
The mass escape comes days after Turkey and its Syrian proxy forces launched Operation Peace Spring against the SDF.
The US-backed force led the ground war against ISIS with US air support, seizing the group’s last holdout of Baghouz in March. The SDF was forced to suspend operations against the group’s remnants however when Turkey attacked.
SDF commanders warn ISIS could resurge as a result of the operation and if hardened jihadists exploit the chaos to break out of the group’s makeshift prisons.
A car bomb exploded early Saturday morning in the Syrian city of Hasaka, close to a prison housing thousands of Islamic State (ISIS) prisoners.
The bombing struck near Geweran prison in Hasaka, the capital of the eponymous province. The jail “holds thousands of ISIS prisoners,” the SDF tweeted.
Five militants also escaped a prison in Qamishli on Friday. The SDF blamed Turkish shelling for the security breach.
US President Donald Trump had said Turkey would secure the ISIS prisoners when he greenlighted the offensive on Sunday and withdrew US troops.