After Turkey launched a large-scale aerial operation against North and East Syria on the 19th of November, 2022, a lot of civil infrastructure and institutions are being targeted. Additionally, Turkey has repeatedly targeted the surroundings of places where foreign ISIS members are detained.
On the 29th of December 2022, the YPJ Information and Documentation Office interviewed Xalid Al Remoo from the Justice and Rehabilitation Office. He evaluates the risks that the Turkish attacks are posing in regard of ISIS detainees.
After evaluating the ongoing Turkish attacks on North and East Syria, Xalid Al Remoo explains what happened on the 23.11.22. On this day, Turkey targeted the checkpoint of the Internal Security Forces of Al-Hol Camp that houses thousands of foreign ISIS families. The airstrikes resulted in eight members of the SDF being killed while on guard at the camp. The bombings created an opportunity for ISIS families to flee. Six of the escapees were caught and re-detained later. Xalid Al Remoo draws attention to two other attacks that Turkey carried out on the same day: “On the 23rd of November 2022 there have been attacks. Those attacks were close to two of our facilities: the Jerkin center and the Orkesh Rehabilitation Center, were foreign ISIS detainees are inside, both of them are located in Qamishlo city. These attacks were highly dangerous and caused unusual activities in all our facilities, where ISIS members are detained. This is why we increased the security level.“
It is known that ISIS detainees understand the Turkish attacks as an opportunity to escape. ISIS families in both of the camps – Roj Camp and Al-Hol camp – were celebrating the Turkish attacks. Xalid Al Remoo confirms that unusual activities were also detected in their detention facilities after Turkey launched the ongoing aerial operation against North and East Syria. He emphasizes that the ISIS members in their detention centers are foreigners. The 65000 ISIS members that are detained in North and East Syria come from 60 different countries from all around the world. If these ISIS detainees manage to escape, they will spread over the whole world and become a global threat.
ISIS activities increased also in other parts of North and East Syria. On December 26th 2022, ISIS sleeper cells carried out a series of aggressions in Raqqa. These attacks need to be understood in context of the Turkish threat to launch another military aggression against North and East Syria. Xalid Al Remoo continues: “When we evaluate the latest developments in Raqqa, we can see that there have been increased ISIS activities. This happened because of the Turkish attacks. Turkey wants ISIS to reorganize and strengthen. The most recent example was the attack two days ago in Raqqa where a center of the Internal Security Forces was attacked and six of our friends were martyred.
The co-chair of the Justice and Rehabilitation Office finishes by mentioning the threat that a potential ISIS resurgence is posing on international security. He says: “At the end, we want to remind the world that if these politics of the Turkish state continue, it is highly likely that ISIS regains strength again.”
In North and East Syria, there are currently 65000 ISIS members detained in camps and detention facilities. Most of them surrendered themselves to SDF forces in Baghuz, where in March 2019 the last stronghold of the Islamic State was defeated. The detention centers across North and East Syria house 12000 ISIS members. The rest – mostly women and children – are in camps.
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