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Turkey’s invasion of Syria has allowed ‘many dangerous ISIS detainees’ to escape, Esper says
Defense Secretary Mark Esper has confirmed that a nightmare scenario has come to pass: Captured ISIS fighters are escaping as a result of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish-held northeast Syria.
Turkey's incursion has led to "the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees," Esper said in a statement on Monday.
While Esper did not say how many prisoners who had been held by the Syrian Democratic Forces had managed to escape, nearly 800 women and children who are related to ISIS fighters were able to flee a Kurdish prison camp at Ain Issa after it was attacked by the Turks, according to Reuters.
Even worse: Turkey's Islamic proxies are freeing ISIS fighters from unguarded prisons, Foreign Policy reporter Lara Seligman brought to light on Monday.
Kurdish fighters captured tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and their families as the caliphate crumbled. Defense officials had persistently warned that the Syrian Democratic Forces were not prepared to hold that many prisoners indefinitely, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has urged his followers to launch massive jail breaks to replenish the terrorist group's ranks.
President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that he suspected it was the Kurds who were intentionally freeing ISIS fighters as part of a ploy to win U.S. support again.
"Kurds may be releasing some to get us involved," the president tweeted, without providing any evidence. "Easily recaptured by Turkey or European Nations from where many came, but they should move quickly."
During an interagency conference call on Monday, a senior administration official was unable to say how many ISIS prisoners have escaped and whether any of those detainees freed include ISIS fighters.
"We don't have a large footprint in Syria," the official said on condition of anonymity. "We can't be everywhere and know everything. From DoD's perspective, we're continuing to monitor and try to corroborate as much information as we are seeing in open source information or from other [sources] on the ground. I cannot corroborate at this point exactly who may have broken out of the prisons at this point."
Some U.S. service members will remain to the Al Tanf garrison, said the official, who would not provide a timeline for when the rest of the U.S. troops in Syria will leave the country.
UPDATE: This story was updated on Oct. 14 with comments from a senior administration official.
It didn't take long for a central theme to emerge at the funeral of U.S. Marine Pfc. Joseph Livermore, an event attended by hundreds of area residents Friday at Union Cemetery in Bakersfield.
It's a theme that stems from a widespread local belief that the men and women who have served in the nation's armed forces are held in particularly high esteem here in the southern valley.
"In Bakersfield and Kern County, we celebrate our veterans like no place else on Earth," Bakersfield Chief of Police Lyle Martin told the gathering of mourners.
ROCKFORD — Delta Force sniper Sgt. First Class James P. McMahon's face was so badly battered and cut, "he looked like he was wearing a fright mask" as he stood atop a downed Black Hawk helicopter and pulled free the body of a fellow soldier from the wreckage.
That's the first description of McMahon in the book by journalist Mark Bowden called "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War." It is a detailed account of the horrific Battle of the Black Sea fought in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. It claimed the lives of 18 elite American soldiers.
Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher will retire as a chief petty officer now that President Donald Trump has restored his rank.
"Before the prosecution of Special Warfare Operator First Class Edward Gallagher, he had been selected for promotion to Senior Chief, awarded a Bronze Star with a "V" for valor, and assigned to an important position in the Navy as an instructor," a White House statement said.
"Though ultimately acquitted on all of the most serious charges, he was stripped of these honors as he awaited his trial and its outcome. Given his service to our Nation, a promotion back to the rank and pay grade of Chief Petty Officer is justified."
The announcement that Gallagher is once again an E-7 effectively nullifies the Navy's entire effort to prosecute Gallagher for allegedly committing war crimes. It is also the culmination of Trump's support for the SEAL throughout the legal process.
On July 2, military jurors found Gallagher not guilty of premeditated murder and attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a wounded ISIS fighter to death and opening fire at an old man and a young girl on separate occasions during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.