ISIS fanatics boasted they had been given a ‘second chance’ after ‘beating Western invaders’ when Donald Trump decided to withdraw US troops from Syria.
The US President announced plans to withdraw from two posts in the area last week – a move that was branded a “stab in the back” by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who had defeated ISIS with the backing of Washington.
However, ISIS fanatics couldn't help but claim they had ‘beat' the US, reportedly selling the withdrawal in a way that credits themselves.
According to Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at King’s College London, ISIS are framing the withdrawal as “Western crusaders, exhausted by war with the mujahidin, are abandoning atheists to make room for Nusayris backed by eastern crusaders & Safavids.”
Some ISIS members are even going as far as describing the move as a "second chance", claiming they are “so lucky and blessed to have this time upon us again.”
Mr Winter added that the "undertone" to the ISIS discussions on this is that the move "demonstrates their enemies’ fundamental fragility while simultaneously underlining ISIS's strength of unity".
He said, however, that ISIS were yet to facilitate a breakout on prisons, where fighters were being held.
Speaking previously, the research fellow said if ISIS were able to carry out emptying a jail, "it could pick up an entire battalion of fighters just like that" – however to do so they would need some serious planning.
He added today: "There will perhaps be more urgency to act now that the SAA is moving in."
The comments came just before Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar revealed earlier today that Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters had emptied a jail holding ISIS prisoners in a part of Syria where Ankara is mounting an offensive.
He added that the prisoners there had been abducted.
Turkey launched a cross-border operation against the YPG militia in northeastern Syria last week, after Donald Trump decided to withdraw forces from two posts in the area in a move that drew strong international criticism.
The Turkish assault has prompted alarm that it could allow ISIS militants to escape Kurdish-run prisons in northern Syria and regroup. Ankara has dismissed those concerns.
Turkey's stated objective is to clear its southern frontier region of the YPG, which it views as a terrorist organisation, and form a "safe zone" 30 km (20 miles) into Syrian territory where it wants to settle millions of Syrian refugees.
Ankara also pledged to take responsibility for IS militants within the "safe zone", but said it would not be accountable for others.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Monday, Akar said the YPG had emptied the only ISIS prison that Turkish forces had so far reached in the envisaged "safe zone" area, and that the inmates had already been removed.
"As you know, there is a prison issue on this Daesh topic. We are determined to show the utmost effort on these prisons. However, there was only one prison in our region, a Daesh prison," Akar said.
"When we went there, we saw that it had been emptied by the YPG and the Islamic State militants there had been abducted. We determined this through photographs and film, talked to our counterpart, and will continue to do so," he added.
Akar did not say how many prisoners were believed to have been taken from the jail, nor did he elaborate on who had taken the prisoners and where.
Trump, providing no evidence, tweeted on Monday that Kurdish forces might be freeing IS prisoners deliberately to lure US troops back into the region.
Escaped fighters could be "easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly", Trump said.
Later on Monday, Turkish media broadcast footage of what it said was the prison emptied by the YPG in central Tel Abyad, along the Turkish border. The footage showed Turkish soldiers roaming through an empty building with jail cells built inside.
The fighting has raised Western concerns that the Kurds, holding large tracts of northern Syria previously controlled by ISIS, would be unable to keep thousands of jihadists in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps.
The region's Kurdish-led administration said 785 IS-affiliated foreigners escaped a camp at Ain Issa at the weekend. The UK-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing sources in the camp, said around 100 people had escaped.
President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the reports on Sunday, saying that accounts of escapes by ISIS prisoners were "disinformation" aimed at provoking the West.
Brit jihadi Tooba Gondal, dubbed the "ISIS matchmaker", was also said to have escaped from jail after Turkish soldiers attacked their guards, reports claim.
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