Abandoned by withdrawing U.S., Kurds turn to Assad and Russia as ISIS detainees escape

Hundreds of ISIS family members and supporters escaped from a camp in northern Syria over the weekend amid a fast-moving Turkish offensive, Kurdish officials said. They said detainees attacked gates at the Ain Issa displacement camp as fighting raged nearby. The chaos came as the Trump administration announced on Sunday an imminent withdrawal of all U.S. forces from northern Syria. 

CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata and his team were among a handful of people on the ground in Syria who got a heads-up about the withdrawal plans, and they had just minutes to pack their bags and get moving, because the situation on the ground was about to change, quickly and dramatically.D’Agata said the Kurds took a pummeling over the weekend, with Turkish forces advancing faster than anyone had expected. Turkey launched an assault last week aimed at driving America’s former allies in the fight against ISIS, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from the region. The United Nations said on Sunday that 130,000 people had fled their homes in the largely Kurdish northeast region of Syria, and that the figure could rise.SDF commanders had warned that the U.S. moving even dozens of troops out of the region could force them to turn their attention from securing a network of overcrowded prisons in the region, holding about 11,000 ISIS militants and their families, to defending their territory from the Turkish incursion. 
The U.S. military is known to have transferred only two ISIS militants, a pair of British nationals accused of executing American journalists and others, into American custody. More than 2,000 other ISIS suspects held by the Kurds are considered highly dangerous terrorists, and despite assurances from the Trump administration that the U.S. would take custody of dozens of other “high value” ISIS prisoners, no more have been handed over.On Monday, President Trump suggested in a tweet that the Kurds might be deliberately setting ISIS prisoners free in an attempt to draw the U.S. back into the conflict.Turkey has long accused the Kurdish SDF militias of being terrorists themselves — linked, Ankara says, to a Kurdish separatist movement based in southern Turkey. Turkey has said it wants to force the SDF militias out of a “safe zone” stretching almost 20 miles into Syrian territory. The Turkish government also plans to resettle more than 3 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey — many of whom are not Kurds — inside the zone, which critics say could lead to ethnic cleansing of the local Kurdish population. President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the area effectively triggered the Turkish incursion against the SDF, America’s main allies in the six-year fight against ISIS in Syria. The Kurds lost about 11,000 of their own forces defending their territory from the ISIS advance, with U.S. help. The Turkish forces appeared poised on Monday to push into and seize another major Kurdish-held town, with troops surrounding Manbij. Turkish officials said they had received no opposition to their plans to take the town from the U.S.SDF joins Assad, and RussiaAn independent war monitoring group based in Britain said Monday that the Turkish offensive had left at least 60 civilians dead, along with more than 200 fighters; 121 SDF militia members and 86 pro-Turkey militants.  As many opponents of the U.S. withdrawal predicted would happen, the SDF confirmed on Monday that it had struck a deal to join Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s Russian-backed forces to try and defend against the Turkish incursion.