ISIS fighters escape from US-backed detention in Syria

A small number of ISIS detainees have "recently" escaped from detention by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, accord...

Posted: Feb 24, 2018 5:43 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2018 5:43 PM

A small number of ISIS detainees have "recently" escaped from detention by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the program. The official described the incident as involving "less than five ISIS fighters."

The fact that escape is possible has underscored the security worries: There have been urgent and growing concerns inside the US military and intelligence community about the security arrangements for hundreds of foreign ISIS fighters being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, according to several US and coalition officials.

The fate of these fighters has taken on urgency because of the sheer number of ISIS operatives being held. US officials have said there are thousands of fighters in Syrian Democratic Forces hands, the majority of them Syrian nationals. Of the detained fighters, some 500 are foreigners from 40 countries, according to one of the officials.

As more fighters are captured and the detainee population swells, officials worry that the camps are becoming new ground for ISIS to regroup and develop new networks. The official with direct knowledge pointed out that in the days of large US-held detention facilities in Iraq, such as Camp Bucca, the US failed to realize quickly enough that such networks would take shape inside detainee populations.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca in 2004, and in retrospect many experts believe the beginning of ISIS could be traced to those days.

"We don't want to make the same mistakes," the official said. The official also confirmed that US personnel are conducting some interrogations under strict military procedures in order not to not violate any laws. Their interrogations have resulted in valuable intelligence, the official said: Two of the fighters were associates of the ISIS killer known as Jihadi John, responsible for the brutal beheadings of several hostages, including Americans. The two men have provided intelligence on the possible location of the remains of some of the dead Americans.

The Pentagon and State Department are trying to encourage the transfer of detained foreign fighters to their home countries. But some countries appear to be resisting this on potential legal grounds, the official said. Nations of origin would be in the position of taking custody from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is not a legally recognized power or nation. The Syrian government, which is in legal control of the country, obviously is not involved in any detention efforts.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, during a recent trip to Europe, failed to secure any transfer agreements.

"I wanted to bring this problem to everyone's attention, under no illusions about that we would solve everything in 24 hours," Mattis told reporters while traveling.

The Pentagon is openly acknowledging the security problem.

"These aren't necessarily the best detention facilities in the sense of they are being held in Syria and not in the most secure area. I think it would be better if we make sure they are prosecuted, if possible, in their countries of origin," said Katie Wheelbarger, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

"There were certain days where we are seeing 40-50 a day were being captured, so a capacity problem is very real," she said.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51612

Reported Deaths: 2760
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12074693
Lake5650249
Elkhart361860
Allen2952134
St. Joseph214869
Hamilton1708101
Cass16459
Hendricks1466100
Johnson1345118
Porter84038
Tippecanoe7799
Vanderburgh7686
Clark71144
Madison67864
LaPorte62328
Howard60758
Bartholomew60145
Kosciusko5824
Marshall5579
Noble52028
Boone49144
LaGrange48610
Jackson4783
Delaware47552
Hancock46836
Shelby45925
Floyd41444
Monroe34828
Morgan34531
Grant32226
Dubois3096
Montgomery29820
Henry29618
Clinton2903
White27610
Dearborn26523
Warrick26129
Vigo2588
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Harrison21822
Greene19632
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1586
Daviess15117
Perry14910
Steuben1382
Orange13723
Jasper1362
Ripley1347
Franklin1288
Gibson1242
Wabash1163
Carroll1142
Starke1083
Whitley1076
Fayette1067
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells821
Randolph804
Fulton731
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush623
Posey610
Spencer571
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65592

Reported Deaths: 3058
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12035447
Cuyahoga9208399
Hamilton6950208
Lucas3007306
Marion274839
Montgomery251336
Summit2351209
Pickaway222741
Mahoning1948239
Butler186347
Columbiana138560
Stark1225116
Lorain115269
Trumbull105378
Warren100926
Clark81610
Delaware72415
Fairfield69217
Lake60923
Tuscarawas60910
Medina58932
Licking58312
Belmont57024
Miami51031
Portage50260
Clermont4977
Wood49451
Ashtabula44844
Geauga42843
Richland3786
Wayne37355
Allen36641
Greene3469
Mercer30210
Erie28622
Holmes2615
Darke25926
Huron2472
Madison2229
Ottawa19324
Sandusky16915
Athens1671
Ross1483
Washington14620
Coshocton1424
Putnam14215
Crawford1415
Hardin12312
Morrow1211
Jefferson1152
Auglaize1114
Muskingum1041
Union1021
Preble911
Clinton892
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence860
Guernsey813
Hocking819
Williams762
Shelby754
Logan711
Scioto710
Carroll703
Ashland682
Fulton670
Brown631
Wyandot635
Champaign551
Fayette550
Knox551
Defiance543
Highland531
Van Wert491
Perry461
Seneca412
Henry350
Paulding320
Jackson300
Pike290
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia211
Harrison141
Noble140
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Warmer Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events