In a statement issued late Sunday night, as The Inquisitr reported, Donald Trump said that United States troops would withdraw from Syria along the border with Turkey, and the ISIS fighters now being held prisoner there would be transferred to Turkish custody. But according to Middle East experts, those ISIS terrorists are more likely to escape than to smoothly transition to Turkish control — and the havoc they cause may be worse than anything ISIS has caused before.
In the White House statement, Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said that the United States “will not hold them [the ISIS prisoners] for what could be many years and great cost to the U.S. taxpayer.”
But Trump simply does not know what he’s talking about, according to Brett McGurk, the former U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, who said via Twitter that the U.S. does not actually hold any ISIS prisoners.
The White House statement “demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of anything happening on the ground,” McGurk wrote. “The ‘United States’ is not holding any ISIS detainees. They are all being held by the SDF, which Trump just served up to Turkey.”
“SDF” refers to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a military anti-ISIS coalition led mainly by a Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
“Trump may actually be on the cusp of creating [one of] the worst national security crises of our time,” said Middle East expert Shiraz Maher, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London, England, writing on his own Twitter account.
Calling Trump’s decision “absolutely astonishing,” Maher cited the results of imprisoning insurgent fighters at Camp Bucca tin Iraq. The prisoners there later formed ISIS, and included Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the terrorist group’s elusive leader. Those freed prisoners left the camp more “brazen, daring and committed precisely because they realized the hopelessness of their situation,” Maher wrote.
“What do we expect released ISIS detainees to do if freed now?” he added.
Josie Ensor, Middle East correspondent for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, also expressed fears that ISIS fighters would simply be allowed to escape in any Turkish invasion of Syria — an invasion that would likely target the same Kurdish fighters who have waged war against ISIS and are holding the ISIS prisoners.
“I’d love to know what this smooth transition of control of ISIS prisons in northern Syria from the Kurds to Turks would look like,” Ensor wrote via Twitter. She added that Kurdish forces are expected to move out of the region to avoid the Turkish assault that Trump’s pullout will allow — a move that will leave “minimal” control of the prisons that now hold hundreds of ISIS detainees.