Erdogan: Reports on Escaped ISIS Prisoners ‘Disinformation’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday dismissed reports that ISIS prisoners in northeastern Syria had escaped as a result of Turkey's offensive in the region, saying they were "disinformation" aimed at provoking the West.
On Sunday, heavy fighting reached the displaced-persons camp in Ain Issa, some 35 kilometers south of the border, that is home to some 12,000 people, including around 1,000 wives and widows of ISIS militants and their children, held in a special detention area.
The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said in a statement that 950 ISIS supporters escaped after attacking guards and storming the gates. It was not immediately possible to confirm that figure.
Jelal Ayaf, a senior official at the camp, told local media that 859 people broke out from the section housing foreign ISIS supporters. He said that a few were recaptured but that supporters inside another section of the camp also escaped and were carrying out attacks. He described the situation as "very volatile."
But Erdogan was quoted by the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying that these reports were false and aimed at provoking the United States and other western countries.
Erdogan on Sunday ruled out any mediation in the dispute with the Kurds, saying Turkey won't negotiate with "terrorists." NATO member Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey, and it has vowed to carve out a "safe zone" along the border.
Turkey’s incursion into Syria will stretch from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east, going some 30 km into Syrian territory, he added.