Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Syria | isis | fighters | escaped | custody | syria

CNN Source: Handful of ISIS Fighters Escaped From Custody

Image: CNN Source: Handful of ISIS Fighters Escaped From Custody
(AP)

By    |   Saturday, 24 February 2018 09:46 AM

A handful of ISIS fighters have escaped while under custody of U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, underscoring concerns about security arrangements for the hundreds of other fighters who are being held.

A U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter told CNN "less than five ISIS fighters" have slipped away.

Katie Wheelbarger, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told CNN that the Pentagon acknowledges there is a security issue with the detention camps.

"These aren't necessarily the best detention facilities in the sense of they are being held in Syria and not in the most secure area," she said. "I think it would be better if we make sure they are prosecuted, if possible, in their countries of origin."

Currently, there are thousands of ISIS operatives being held in custody, mostly Syrian nationals. Approximately 500 of the fighters are foreigners from 40 countries.

Officials are also concerned that detainee camps are becoming locations that allow ISIS to develop new networks. CNN's source noted that when the United States operated detention facilities in Iraq, it did not realize quickly enough that detainee populations were forming terrorist networks, including the beginnings of ISIS, as its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been held at Camp Bucca in 2004.

The United States has been interrogating some of the detainees, resulting in valuable intelligence. Two men were associates of "Jihadi John," who was responsible for the beheadings of several hostages, including from the United States, said the official. They also provided intelligence on the remains of some of the Americans who were killed.

During a recent trip to Europe, Defense Secretary James Mattis was not able to secure transfer arrangements for several of the detained foreign fighters. The Pentagon and State Department wants them transferred to their home countries, CNN's source said.

However, some of the countries are concerned about the legality of taking custody from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which has not been recognized as a power or nation. The Syrian government is not involved in detention efforts.

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A handful of ISIS fighters have escaped while under custody of U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, underscoring concerns about security arrangements for the hundreds of other fighters who are being held.
isis, fighters, escaped, custody, syria
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2018-46-24
Saturday, 24 February 2018 09:46 AM
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