Turkey believes 1,000 Deash terrorists held in Syria operation area

Asad Varda


Turkey believes more than 1,000 Daesh terrorists are being held in the swathe of northeast Syria its troops are set on capturing, most of them from Europe and the United States, two Turkish security officials said.

The exact locations of the detention centres has not been disclosed but a Turkish security official said Ankara believed there were several in the 30-km (20 mile) deep border area where it says it will establish a "safe zone" under its control.

"It is estimated that there are approximately 1,200-1,500 Daesh terrorists in buildings being used as prisons inside the region where Turkey is carrying out its ... operation," one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

The official said Turkey had not received official notification, but cited information "from various sources in the field" saying they included large numbers of foreign fighters from the United States, France, Germany and Belgium.

"The foreign terrorist fighters will not be released," the official said. "However, there will also be initiatives to send them back to their countries of origin."He did not say how Turkey could ensure that the detainees remain in captivity in the event of fighting or shelling around the prisons.

For now, Turkey's land op appears focused on the two towns of Ras al Ain and Tel Abyad, much further west.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's communications director said that U.S. President Donald Trump, in a Sunday phone call which appeared to pave the way for Turkey's offensive, agreed "to transfer the leadership of the counter-Islamic State campaign to Turkey".
Ankara insists, despite international fears to the contrary, that there will be no let-up in the campaign.

"Every aspect of Daesh - countering Daesh terrorism, dealing with prisoners, and women and children - Turkey will do it best like it has before and will do it in Syria too," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Cavusoglu said it was not clear how many Daesh were in the zone targeted by Turkey's operation, estimating around 1,000 were held in prisons "and they say there are another thousand in camps," he said without elaborating.

"If those camps or prisons are in the safe zone, we are responsible. I'm not responsible for Daesh camps in the south of Syria," he told a group of journalists including Reuters in Ankara on Thursday.

"The U.S. and others made it clear they will be staying in the southern part...," he said. "So it will under the Americans' responsibility."

Source: Turkey syria operation