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.

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1122104

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1302141493
Cuyahoga1171052259
Hamilton823021259
Montgomery534221059
Summit488431014
Lucas43716832
Butler39925614
Stark33777937
Lorain25975509
Warren24887312
Mahoning22677612
Lake21448396
Clermont20360260
Delaware19105138
Licking16838227
Trumbull16770491
Fairfield16750207
Medina15818276
Greene15497254
Clark14336308
Portage13410218
Wood13332201
Allen12037245
Richland11722213
Miami10993228
Wayne9249227
Columbiana9195236
Muskingum9118137
Pickaway8735123
Tuscarawas8710254
Marion8697140
Erie8116166
Ashtabula7270179
Hancock7043134
Ross7011165
Geauga6946153
Scioto6665108
Belmont6207179
Lawrence5912104
Union590449
Jefferson5722162
Huron5624122
Sandusky5473130
Darke5436130
Seneca5376128
Washington5360111
Athens526360
Auglaize506987
Mercer490585
Shelby480997
Knox4609112
Madison447266
Ashland442698
Defiance438499
Fulton435675
Putnam4351104
Crawford4108111
Brown409462
Preble3944107
Logan391679
Clinton388666
Ottawa375381
Highland364968
Williams356178
Champaign348060
Guernsey329754
Jackson321154
Perry298350
Morrow294543
Fayette288150
Hardin279065
Henry276967
Coshocton272561
Holmes2725102
Van Wert251765
Adams249158
Gallia248950
Pike244537
Wyandot235257
Hocking222263
Carroll200649
Paulding179342
Meigs151040
Noble137739
Monroe137445
Harrison115138
Morgan111624
Vinton87217
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 79°
Angola
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 79°
Huntington
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 79°
Van Wert
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 81°
The summer heat sticks around as we start the work week. Make sure to stay hydrated. Stay inside in the air conditioning or in the shade as much as possible to stay cool.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events