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Turkey accuses Kurdish forces of freeing Daesh prisoners in Syria

By AFP - Oct 14,2019 - Last updated at Oct 14,2019

Turkish soldiers and Turkey-backed Syrian fighters gather on the northern outskirts of the Syrian city of Manbij near the Turkish border on Monday, as Turkey and its allies continue their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in north-eastern Syria (AFP photo)

ISTANBUL — Turkey on Monday accused Kurdish forces of deliberately releasing Daesh prisoners held at a prison in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad.

“Turkish forces raided a prison in Tal Abyad earlier today, expecting to take custody of Daesh terrorists held there,” a senior government official told reporters.

“Before they got there, [Kurdish] PKK/YPG terrorists set free the Daesh militants in an attempt to fuel chaos in the area,” he said, claiming that no doors had been broken in the prison.

Western governments have voiced concern that Turkey’s operation against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria would lead to Daesh extremists escaping from detention centres in the region.

Kurdish authorities said Sunday that 800 Daesh family members being held in a camp at Ain Issa had managed to flee due to Turkish bombing, and that five jihadists had escaped another prison on Friday.

Turkey claims the Kurdish forces deliberately set them free.

“The folly of trusting a terrorist group for keeping watch over another is exposed for all,” said the Turkish official.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier hit out at “disinformation” reports that Turkey was responsible for the escape of extremists.

“This is actually disinformation aimed at provoking America or the West,” he said, quoted by the Hurriyet daily.

Some relatives of the Daesh families in the Ain Issa camp told AFP that Kurdish guards had forced the women and children to leave.

“Today [Sunday], the Kurdish guards opened the doors to the foreign women and asked them to leave the camp,” said the mother of a 24-year-old woman, who had been kept at the camp with her infant son for the past 18 months.

“They didn’t escape. They [the Kurdish forces] didn’t want them. They were expecting to be taken over by Syrian or Turkish forces, but they were kicked out. For several days, the bombs were falling closer and closer to the camp, where there were no more NGOs, no more help,” she added.

President Donald Trump on Monday rejected criticism that his decision to remove US troops from the region was risking a mass escape of Daesh prisoners.

“Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved. Easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly,” he wrote on Twitter.

France, which accounts for the largest number of European extremists in Syria, said Sunday it was “worried” by the situation and has called for an end to the Turkish offensive.

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