The situation in Northern Syria is getting worse as more than 700 people with links to Islamic State have escaped from a detention camp. There are still thousands of people with links to Islamic State-held in prison and refugee camps under control of Kurdish forces. As the Turkish army advances, there are fears that those prisoners will escape.
Today, Kurdish-led forces have reportedly reached deal with the Syrian government to surrender the border towns of Manbij and Kobane to Damascus. The deal was reportedly brokered by Russia, several officials said on Sunday night. According to Ahmed Suleiman, a senior member of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria, which is not part of the SDF, the talks were being held at Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Latakia.
Shortly after this information was revealed, Damascus started mobilizing its soldiers towards the north of the country to face the Turkish offensive. The Syrian state media reported about Syrian Army troops moving to the north in order to “confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory”. Unconfirmed reports said the deal between the Kurds and the regime would be extended to apply to the entirety of north-east Syria.
The Kurds in Northern Syria are mostly organized into the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which have been funded and trained by the US to combat Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL) since 2015. They have defeated the militant group in March after losing more than 11,000 troops in the battle.
So far, after 5 days of the Turkish offensive, dozens of Kurdish fighters, several Turkish soldiers, and at least ten civilians were killed. The operation codenamed “Operation Peace Spring” began earlier this week. Hundreds of Islamic State supporters have been freed as the Kurdish forces had to shift the focus on protecting their towns and cities. The UN estimates that more than 100,000 people have had to flee their homes since the operation began.