Friday, November 1, 2019

Former US envoy claims 40,000 ISIS fighters traveled to Syria via Turkey, by Levent Kenez

Brett McGurk, the former US envoy for the global coalition to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), tweeted on October 9 that Turkey “foreclosed any serious cooperation on ISIS even as 40k foreign fighters flowed through its territory into Syria.”

McGurk also criticized US President Donald Trump’s green light to Turkey’s military offensive in Syria that was launched on October 10. According to McGurk, the consequences of the attack would be serious.

“Turkey and Russia appear now to be coordinating to maximize pressure on the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] zone, where a small number of US forces are located. ISIS is surely preparing to reconstitute in the maelstrom,” he added.

The former envoy, who served as the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS between 2015 and 2018, also tweeted exclusive information disclosing how Turkish authorities turned a blind eye to ISIS militants crossing its borders, which was widely  voiced by terrorism experts and critics of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Tal Abyad, a Syrian border town, was the main supply route for ISIS from 6/14-6/15 when weapons, explosives, and fighters flowed freely from Turkey to Raqqa and into Iraq. Turkey refused repeated and detailed requests to seal its side of the border with US help and assistance.”

McGurk noted that Turkey also refused to permit the US military to fly from Incirlik Airbase to strike ISIS positions even while ISIS fighters were pouring into Syria from Turkey.

He said an ISIS combat team traveled from Manbij through Turkey to Paris, killing 131 people, and that this followed the ISIS suicide bombings at a Brussels airport, also by a team that traveled from Syria through Turkey.

Claiming that US-led coalition forces enabled the SDF over Turkey’s objection to seize Manbij in a costly multi-month battle, McGurk wrote that there had been no further directed attacks into Europe since then.

Castigating the White House statement in which President Trump assured that “Turkey is now responsible for holding thousands of ISIS prisoners the Syrian Kurds had been guarding,” the former envoy pointed out that the prisoners are in an SDF-guarded camp that is 230 kilometers from the Turkish attack zone.

McGurk previously expressed that Turkey has neither the intent, desire nor capacity to manage 60,000 detainees in the al Hol camp, which US authorities warn is the nucleus for a resurgent ISIS and added, “Believing otherwise is a reckless gamble with our national security.”

A recent report published by the ISIS-Turkey Research Project exposed the Erdoğan government’s support for ISIS based on hard evidence. It is also noteworthy that Turkish officials who disclosed Erdoğan’s support for ISIS have been either purged or arrested by the Erdoğan government since a coup attempt in 2016.