SDF commander warns of losing control of the ISIS camps

SDF commander warns of losing control of the ISIS camps
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Mazloum Abdi said Turkey’s operations will undermine the defeat of the Islamic State and SDF’s counter-terrorism operations against the ISIS would stop

General Mozloum Abdi, the chief commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they will no longer have the ability to control the compounds that the ISIS members and their families are held, should Turkish military launches a ground offensive into Northern Syria.

"Our forces would be busy protecting our own people and families and we wouldn't be able to guard the camps," Abdi told the BBC on Friday.

Turkey that has been conducting aerial attacks into Northern Syria and Iraq since the weekend in retaliation for an Istanbul bombing, also threatened a land operation into the region to combat Kurdish militants.

On Wednesday, a Turkish airstrike carried out by war planes and drones have targeted the security guards of the al-Hol camp and killed eight of its fighters, SDF said. Tens of thousands of wives, widows, and children of ISIS members alongside ISIS detainees are held in the camp, which is located in Hasakah province. Al-Hol is the largest of the facilities housing the ISIS terrorists.

The attack was "cunningly planned," and was carried out to help detainees and families of the ISIS members’ escape, a Kurdish official told AP, adding that some detainees tried to flee.

"The security forces currently have al-Hol camp under control, but that could change if these attacks continued, and the detainees could disperse in the area,” Sheikhmous Ahmad said.

Speaking to the BBC, Mazloum Abdi warned that a ground operation would result in a resurgence of the ISIS.

"It would lead to a second civil war in Syria and our counter-terrorism operations against the Islamic State would stop," Abdi said.

"As part of the international coalition, we fought and defeated IS, and what Turkey is doing will undermine all of it," he said, warning that the consequences of Turkey’s operation will be really bad not only for them but for the world.

The SDF is allied with the West in a fight against the ISIS in Syria. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) that forms the backbone of the SDF is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey whom Ankara sees as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is an outlawed armed group, fighting an insurgency on Turkish soil for almost four decades and maintains its headquarters in Northern Iraq.

Turkey that blamed the Istanbul bombing on the PKK and the YPG, has been shelling the two groups’ bases in the region since the weekend. PKK and YPG denied involvement.

A bomb attack on Nov.13 rocked Istanbul’s historical Istiklal Avenue in Taksim district, killing six and wounding 81 people.

In an interview with Al-Monitor earlier in the week, Abdi said the Istanbul attack was “perpetrated by Syrian opposition groups operating under Turkey’s control.”

“We had absolutely nothing to do with the bombing and we have no such policy,” Abdi said.

Since 2016, Turkey has carried out three large-scale military operations into Northern Syria to combat Kurdish YPG militia.

A coalition of Turkey-backed armed Syrian rebel groups operating mainly in the north of the war-torn Syria, supports Ankara in its fight against Kurdish groups.

The Syrian National Army (SNA), formerly known as the Free Syrian Army, took part in Turkey’s military offensives into the region and is provided funding, training and military support by Ankara, according to several reports.

The New York Times in 2019 said the SNA fighters are the employees of the Turkish state and have been on Ankara’s payroll since 2016.