U.S. Homeland Security chairman demands report on possible ISIS threat
Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security Bennie Thompson has requested an intelligent assessment on the threat the United States by the Islamic State (ISIS) fighters released or escaped in the aftermath of Turkey's incursion in northeast Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against which Turkey launched an offensive on Oct. 9 to clear from a "safe zone" it plans to establish up to 32 kilometres south of its border, has been holding between 10,000 to 12,000 captives taken during the fight against ISIS, according to Thompson's letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The SDF and its local allies played a key role in the U.S.-backed coalition on ISIS, but Ankara views the Kurdish-led groups as a security threat since they are linked to outlawed militants in Turkey.
Amid Turkey's incursion, at least 800 of those detained have been released or escaped after SDF sources were reallocated to stave off the attacks, the letter said.
A day after the Turkish offensive, the U.S. military moved several dozen high-value ISIS members out of the Kurdish controlled prisons, moving them to a U.S. base in Iraq, according to the New York Times.
However, the U.S. forces have been "unable to relocate 50 [High Value Individuals], the most dangerous of the terrorists," Thompson said.
"Given the ability of foreign fighters and others escaped or released to transit through Turkey, we are concerned about the threat they may pose to the U.S. Accordingly, we request DHS issue an intelligence assessment analyzing the recent events in Syria and their possible security impact on the homeland," the chairman said.