STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

ISIS fighters escape from US-backed detention in Syria

A small number of ISIS detainees have "recently" escaped from detention by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, accord...

Posted: Feb 24, 2018 4:43 PM
Updated: Feb 24, 2018 4:43 PM

A small number of ISIS detainees have "recently" escaped from detention by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, according to a US official with direct knowledge of the program. The official described the incident as involving "less than five ISIS fighters."

The fact that escape is possible has underscored the security worries: There have been urgent and growing concerns inside the US military and intelligence community about the security arrangements for hundreds of foreign ISIS fighters being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces, according to several US and coalition officials.

The fate of these fighters has taken on urgency because of the sheer number of ISIS operatives being held. US officials have said there are thousands of fighters in Syrian Democratic Forces hands, the majority of them Syrian nationals. Of the detained fighters, some 500 are foreigners from 40 countries, according to one of the officials.

As more fighters are captured and the detainee population swells, officials worry that the camps are becoming new ground for ISIS to regroup and develop new networks. The official with direct knowledge pointed out that in the days of large US-held detention facilities in Iraq, such as Camp Bucca, the US failed to realize quickly enough that such networks would take shape inside detainee populations.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca in 2004, and in retrospect many experts believe the beginning of ISIS could be traced to those days.

"We don't want to make the same mistakes," the official said. The official also confirmed that US personnel are conducting some interrogations under strict military procedures in order not to not violate any laws. Their interrogations have resulted in valuable intelligence, the official said: Two of the fighters were associates of the ISIS killer known as Jihadi John, responsible for the brutal beheadings of several hostages, including Americans. The two men have provided intelligence on the possible location of the remains of some of the dead Americans.

The Pentagon and State Department are trying to encourage the transfer of detained foreign fighters to their home countries. But some countries appear to be resisting this on potential legal grounds, the official said. Nations of origin would be in the position of taking custody from the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is not a legally recognized power or nation. The Syrian government, which is in legal control of the country, obviously is not involved in any detention efforts.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, during a recent trip to Europe, failed to secure any transfer agreements.

"I wanted to bring this problem to everyone's attention, under no illusions about that we would solve everything in 24 hours," Mattis told reporters while traveling.

The Pentagon is openly acknowledging the security problem.

"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. I think it would be better if we make sure they are prosecuted, if possible, in their countries of origin," said Katie Wheelbarger, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

"There were certain days where we are seeing 40-50 a day were being captured, so a capacity problem is very real," she said.

Huntsville/Redstone
Cloudy
59° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 62°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 60°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 62°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 58°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 525049

Reported Deaths: 10824
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson757291498
Mobile40509800
Madison34201497
Tuscaloosa25469445
Montgomery24106574
Shelby23257245
Baldwin20815303
Lee15694167
Calhoun14391313
Morgan14183276
Etowah13728350
Marshall12043221
Houston10442280
Elmore10001202
Limestone9872149
Cullman9524191
St. Clair9519236
Lauderdale9301235
DeKalb8780184
Talladega8124174
Walker7160277
Autauga6819107
Jackson6770110
Blount6563133
Colbert6244133
Coffee5438113
Dale4780111
Russell432639
Franklin422081
Chilton4161111
Covington4090116
Tallapoosa3948149
Escambia390475
Dallas3530150
Chambers3527121
Clarke347760
Marion3083100
Pike306776
Lawrence297796
Winston273272
Bibb257362
Marengo248261
Geneva246375
Pickens233459
Barbour228956
Hale219575
Butler214368
Fayette210761
Henry188244
Cherokee183245
Randolph178841
Monroe174440
Washington166238
Macon156849
Clay150956
Crenshaw149857
Cleburne147341
Lamar139834
Lowndes138053
Wilcox125627
Bullock122340
Conecuh109828
Perry107726
Sumter103632
Coosa103128
Greene91534
Choctaw58924
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 839841

Reported Deaths: 12130
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby935471600
Davidson88371927
Knox49996626
Hamilton43575488
Rutherford42477424
Williamson27637215
Sumner23591345
Montgomery19799224
Wilson18569230
Out of TN1804895
Unassigned16945133
Sullivan16318287
Blount15240194
Bradley14701148
Washington14291244
Maury13286170
Sevier13222175
Putnam11227173
Madison10913241
Robertson9645130
Anderson8657172
Hamblen8528171
Greene7777152
Tipton7257101
Coffee6845121
Dickson6765109
Cumberland6624128
Carter6502156
Bedford6458129
Gibson6430145
McMinn640097
Roane6216103
Jefferson6098124
Loudon603869
Hawkins5841106
Lawrence583786
Monroe574995
Warren552681
Dyer5380104
Franklin510588
Fayette495576
Obion450696
Cheatham448555
Cocke445198
Lincoln432563
Rhea431875
Marshall413958
Campbell411262
Weakley404464
Giles396499
Henderson374976
Macon359077
Carroll358682
White356468
Hardin352866
Hardeman347264
Lauderdale315144
Henry313175
Marion311047
Claiborne309373
Scott306145
Overton299061
Wayne294534
Hickman281146
McNairy278554
DeKalb276553
Smith275339
Haywood268661
Grainger260049
Trousdale249322
Morgan246739
Fentress238747
Johnson234538
Chester210751
Bledsoe210311
Crockett202048
Polk200924
Unicoi196849
Cannon189731
Union187234
Grundy178434
Humphreys175722
Lake169526
Sequatchie167228
Benton163440
Decatur157739
Lewis156826
Meigs136124
Stewart131328
Jackson130935
Clay109931
Houston108833
Perry105728
Moore100317
Van Buren83823
Pickett75724
Hancock56112

Community Events