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As President Trump ordered the withdrawal of 1,000 remaining U.S. troops from northern Syria, hundreds of Islamic State family members members escaped from a detention camp managed by Syrian Kurdish forces amid a Turkish barrage Sunday.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that that the U.S. would withdraw the troops just days soon after saying the U.S. was not “abandoning” its Kurdish allies in the area, who had served as the lead fighting force on behalf of the U.S. in forcing out Islamic State militants in Syria.

“We did not want to place American forces into harm’s way,” Esper mentioned on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” referring to a Turkish offensive against the Kurdish forces that started final week soon after Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the border region involving Syria and Turkey. “We did not want to get involved in a conflict that dates back almost 200 years involving the Turks and the Kurds and get involved in an additional — but an additional — war in the Middle East.”

Critics in each parties have accused the administration of each abandoning an ally and of opening the way for the resurgence of the Islamic State militias that the Kurdish forces took the lead in combating.

“ISIS will resurge,” former Defense Secretary James N. Mattis warned on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” applying an acronym for Islamic State. “It’s certainly a offered that they will come back.”

Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) chair of the Home Foreign Affairs Committee, also on “Meet the Press,” mentioned:

“I can consider of practically nothing much more disgusting in all the years I’ve been in Congress than what this president is permitting to come about with the Kurds. They have been our loyal and faithful allies for so quite a few years, and soon after this, who once again would trust the United States to be an ally of them? Who would consider it pays to align themselves with us? No one. This is going to make men and women flee from us, and it is just certainly disgraceful that the president of the United States is facilitating all of this.”

For days, Kurdish fighters cautioned that the turmoil triggered by a Turkish incursion would give the Islamist extremists held in Kurdish-run detention centers the opportunity to escape.

And on Sunday virtually 800 relatives of Islamic State’s cadres fled an annex of a detention camp close to the Kurdish-controlled city of Ain Aissa, soon after Turkish airstrikes and rocket fire hit nearby locations.

The camp’s Kurdish guards abandoned their posts to repel the incoming Turkish onslaught, mentioned the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition Syrian war monitor.

According to the Save the Youngsters help group, 249 girls and 700 young children linked to Islamic State had been housed in the annex.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S.-backed militias that are led by the Kurdish fighters, confirmed the breakout, saying that some 785 had escaped.

In all, roughly 11,000 Islamic State militants, which includes about two,000 foreign fighters, have been held in detention by Kurdish forces in northern Syria. The U.S. has moved roughly 4 dozen of them to safe facilities elsewhere.

Turkey launched its offensive, which it mentioned was intended to rout the Kurdish-led fighters from a thin strip of territory along the 566-mile Syrian-Turkish border. It came soon after Trump mentioned the U.S. was withdrawing its troops from Syria, efficiently clearing the path for Turkey to commence its assault.

But the Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebel factions have blitzed via swaths of northern Syria, with chaos resulting. Given that the operation started, 52 civilians have been killed along with much more than a hundred Kurdish militia members, the Observatory mentioned, with a quantity of them summarily executed by Syrian rebels.

Eighteen Turkish civilians living close to the border have been killed by Kurdish cross-border mortar and rocket attacks, according to Turkish officials.

An estimated 130,000 men and women have abandoned their houses, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordination workplace mentioned on Saturday. Attacks on vital infrastructure have impacted 400,000 men and women.

Meanwhile, the Turkish defense ministry and Syrian rebel groups announced Sunday they had taken handle of Tal Abyadh, a border city that was a major objective of the operation’s 1st phase.

Turkish warplanes and artillery also battered Ras Al-Ain, an additional strategic border town, striking neighborhoods exactly where Kurdish fighters had been holding off Syrian rebels closing in. Activists later reported a quantity of them had surrendered.

The Turkish-backed militants also overran components of the M4, an essential east-west highway that was the spine of the Kurdish-held territories, splitting them in two and potentially cutting off the exit for these looking for to flee.

The collapse of the Kurdish militia prompted the withdrawal of remaining U.S. forces in northern Syria, Esper announced Sunday.
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Reacting to Republicans and Democrats in Congress excoriating the U.S. for the withdrawal, Esper mentioned the U.S. “didn’t sign up to fight the Turks on” behalf of the Kurds.

Trump’s choice has spurred a cascade of criticism. Loyalists and adversaries alike have accused the administration of abandoning an ally and opening the way for Islamic State’s resurrection significantly less than a year soon after Kurdish forces had destroyed the final of their territorial caliphate. (At its height, Islamic State controlled a third of each Iraq and Syria.)

Trump, nevertheless, stood by the troop pullout. On Twitter, he known as it “very smart” to not be “involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change” and appeared to at least partially endorse the Turkish view that a top Kurdish group, the PKK, which is allied with the Syrian Kurds, are “terrorists.”

“The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for quite a few years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Other individuals could want to come in and fight for a single side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the scenario closely. Endless Wars!” Trump tweeted.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) challenged that, expressing a widespread view in each parties on Capitol Hill. “The hell you unleashed — by double crossing an ally and restocking ISIS — will price thousands of U.S. lives in the lengthy run,” he wrote on Twitter.

But Trump, who has vacillated involving defending the withdrawal and vowing to punish Turkey, also tweeted that he would assistance legislation to impose sanctions that has been drafted by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“Treasury is prepared to go, more legislation could be sought,” he wrote. “There is good consensus on this.”

With the Kurds unable to rely on U.S. help, there had been indicators they had been now “looking to reduce a deal” with the Syrian government and Russia to carry out a counterattack, Esper mentioned.

It was unclear, nevertheless, if Damascus was open to the overtures.

A government official, Jayez Moussa, speaking in the Syrian pro-government every day Al Watan, mentioned there would be “no communication or understandings” with what he known as “the separatist militias.”

The new fighting brings additional instability to an region that has noticed almost continuous warfare due to the fact Syria’s civil war started in 2011 and evolved into a multifront conflict with sectarian-tinged bloodletting.

The U.S. is reported to have had much more than a dozen bases and observation posts dotting northern Syria. A U.S. official speaking on background, mentioned troops would stay elsewhere in Syria.

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