Families of Islamic State (IS) group members escaped a displacement camp in northern Syria where a Turkish offensive against Kurdish forces has sparked fierce fighting, Kurdish authorities said Sunday.
“The brutal military assault led by Turkey and its mercenaries is now taking place near a camp in Ain Issa, where there are thousands (of people) from families of IS,” the Kurdish administration said in a statement.
“Some were able to escape after bombardments that targeted” the camp, the statement added.
“More than 100 people, women and children,” fled the camp in Ain Issa, a camp official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor confirmed that “around 100” foreign women and children from families of IS members escaped, without specifying their nationalities.
Turkey launched its offensive on Wednesday to push Kurdish-led forces away from the north-eastern border area of war-torn Syria.
Kurdish authorities have repeated warnings that the fighting could facilitate an IS resurgence, saying security instability could allow IS to free thousands of jihadists and their families held in prisons and displacement camps in Kurdish-held territory.
Some 12,000 IS fighters – Syrians, Iraqis as well as foreigners from 54 countries – are detained in Kurdish prisons, according to their official statistics.
The displacement camps host some 12,000 foreigners – 8,000 children and 4,000 women.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who control territory in northern Syria, were the main partner on the ground in the US-led campaign against IS.
US President Donald Trump has been accused of abandoning a loyal ally and giving Turkey a green light to launch the long-threatened offensive after ordering American troops to pull back from the border.