October 13, 2019 / 9:41 AM / 10 months ago

SDF: Not enough guards at Syria camp holding Islamic State families

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Kurdish-led security forces do not have enough guards for the Ain Issa camp that holds families of Islamic State militants and dozens of them have escaped since Turkish shelling struck the area, an official with the Syrian Democratic Forces said.

Already weakened by the redeployment of forces to front lines, the guarding of the camp was further depleted on Sunday when Turkish shells crashed nearby, prompting some of the remaining personnel to flee, SDF official Marvan Qamishlo said.

“The guarding is very weak now,” he told Reuters, saying that there were now just 60-70 security personnel at the camp compared with a normal level of no less than 700.

The camp holds some 12,000 displaced people including some relatives of IS militants and ideally would require 1,500 guards, he said. “We don’t have this sufficient number.”

Advances by Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies had compounded the concerns of security personnel in the camp, giving rise to fears the site could be encircled, Qamishlo said.

“What is a security person going to do? They are not special forces or SDF.”

Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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