Documents show Turkish intelligence profile of ISIS villages in Syria – Nordic Monitor

The Turkish intelligence agency kept a detailed profile of northern Syrian towns and villages controlled by the extremist jihadist Islamic State (ISIS) during the height of its power in 2016, according to documents that dissident news site Nordic Monitor says are classified papers from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organisation.

The documents show that most of the ISIS villages were populated by Arabs, Turkmens, or a mixture of both, said the Nordic Monitor, whose director Abdullah Bozkurt is wanted by Turkey for his suspected links to the Gülen religious movement, which Turkey’s government blames for a coup attempt in 2016.

These settlements included Al-Rai, a town close to the Turkish border village of Elbeyli that lay on an important smuggling route and acted as a collection place for foreign fighters who came to Syria to join ISIS. 

Turkey has come under fire this year for launching a military operation against the Kurdish forces that wrested control of northern Syria from ISIS. Critics of Ankara say it backs rebel groups that include remnants of ISIS, and some say that Turkey turned a blind eye to the group while it was fighting Kurdish groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The Turkish government denies these claims.

Reports have emerged of Turkey’s Syrian rebel proxies perpetrating war crimes and human rights abuses since the offensive was launched in October.

In another article published on Dec. 10, the Nordic Monitor reported that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had concluded that Turkey was providing backing in 2016 to the Nusra Front, a jihadist group that operated under the al Qaeda umbrella.

A document that the Nordic Monitor attributes to the DIA says the Nusra Front “probably receives logistical, financial and materiel assistance from elements of the Turkish and Qatari governments.”