Trump Endorses Turkish Military Operation in Syria, Shifting U.S. Policy – The New York Times

A recent inspector general’s report warned that a drawdown ordered by Mr. Trump this year — from 2,000 American forces in Syria to less than half of that — has meant that the American military has had to cut back support for Syrian partner forces fighting ISIS. For now, American and international forces can only try to ensure that ISIS remains contained and away from urban areas, officials say.

Although there is little concern that the Islamic State will reclaim its former physical territory, a self-declared Islamic caliphate that was once the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people, the terrorist group has still mobilized as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria. These sleeper cells and strike teams have carried out sniper attacks, ambushes, kidnappings and assassinations against security forces and community leaders.

Over the past several months, ISIS has made inroads into a sprawling tent camp in northeast Syria, and there is no ready plan to deal with the 70,000 people there, including thousands of family members of ISIS fighters.

American intelligence officials say the Al Hol camp, managed by Syrian Kurdish allies with little aid or security, is evolving into a hotbed of ISIS ideology and a huge breeding ground for future terrorists. The American-backed Syrian Kurdish force also holds more than 10,000 ISIS fighters, including 2,000 foreigners, in separate makeshift prisons.

The custody of all these people could be in jeopardy, American officials said Sunday night, depending on whether any Turkish incursion sets off a much larger conflict in northeast Syria.


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