The story appears on

Page A11

October 14, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » World

IS supporters flee amid turmoil

Hundreds of Islamic State supporters escaped from a displaced-persons camp in northern Syria yesterday amid heavy clashes between invading Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters. And US President Donald Trump ordered all US troops to withdraw further south to avoid getting caught in the fighting.

The twin developments reflected growing chaos in Syria, where the Turkish offensive has raised fears it will destabilize the region, create another refugee crisis and allow the battered Islamic State group to make a comeback.

A US military official said that the situation across northeastern Syria was “deteriorating rapidly” and that American forces were cut off from the Kurdish fighters they had previously been allied with.

The official, who was not authorized to disclose operational details and spoke on condition of anonymity, said US troops on the ground are at risk of being “isolated” and cannot travel overland without a “high risk” of confrontation with Turkish-backed forces.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the approximately 1,000 US troops in Syria are not leaving the country entirely but are trying to avoid becoming embroiled in the conflict.

“In the last 24 hours, we learned that they (the Turks) likely intend to expand their attack further south than originally planned — and to the west,” he added.

The danger to American forces was shown on Friday, when a small number of US troops fell under Turkish artillery fire at an observation post in the north. No Americans were hurt. Esper called that an example of “indiscriminate fire” coming close to Americans, adding it was unclear whether that was an accident.

Trump, in a tweet, said: “Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change. Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight. They have no idea what a bad decision they have made.”

The heavy fighting yesterday reached the displaced-persons camp in Ein Eissa, some 35 kilometers south of the border, which is home to some 12,000 people, including 1,000 wives and widows of Islamic State fighters and their children.

The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said in a statement that 950 IS supporters escaped after attacking guards and storming the gates. It was not immediately possible to confirm that figure.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Turkish warplanes struck villages near the camp and camp residents fled amid clashes between the two sides. The organization did not provide an exact number.

Jelal Ayaf, a senior official at the camp, said 859 people escaped from the section housing foreigners. He said that a few were recaptured.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend