Turkish President vows no ISIS fighters will escape Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the pledge amid Turkey's military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the pledge amid Turkey's military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.

ISTANBUL • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed not to allow any Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters to escape northern Syria, in an editorial published yesterday, following fears from Western nations over Turkey's offensive in the region.

"We will ensure that no ISIS fighters leave north-eastern Syria," he wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

But he added that Western countries were hypocritical to worry that Turkey's operation against Kurdish militants risked a mass escape of ISIS militants.

"The same countries that lecture Turkey on the virtues of combating ISIS today failed to stem the influx of foreign terrorist fighters in 2014 and 2015," Mr Erdogan wrote.

The United States slapped sanctions on Turkey on Monday as it demanded an end to the military operation, accusing its Nato partner of putting civilians at risk and allowing the release of extremists.

The Kurdish authorities claim the Turkish assault makes it difficult to maintain security at their detention centres. They say 800 ISIS family members escaped a camp at Ain Issa on Sunday and five militants broke out of another prison last Friday.

Turkey says Kurdish forces have deliberately set free detainees "to fuel chaos in the area". Some relatives of ISIS family members have made the same claim to Agence France-Presse.

Ankara has vowed to take control of all detention centres in its operational area.

"We are prepared to cooperate with source countries and international organisations on the rehabilitation of foreign terrorist fighters' spouses and children," Mr Erdogan wrote in the editorial.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'Turkish President vows no ISIS fighters will escape Syria'. Print Edition | Subscribe