Five Islamic State fighters have broken free from a jail in northeast Syria amid Turkish shelling, Kurdish forces have said, fuelling fears Ankara’s controversial offensive could trigger the resurgence of the group.
The detainees escaped from a prison in the Syrian border city of Qamishli, which is under heavy bombardment from Turkish forces and its Syrian rebel allies.
Marvan Qamishlo, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a key US ally, said artillery fire had pounded the area shortly before the jihadists broke free.
Isis separately claimed responsibility for a car bombing in the same city.
It came just hours after women affiliated with Isis attacked Kurdish officers during an attempted prison break in a camp about 80km south of Qamishli.
The incident at al-Hol camp, which holds 70,000 women and children from mainly Isis families, erupted in the foreigners’ section, spokesman Qamishlo added.
As the fighting intensified even US special operations came under fire from Turkish artillery which, according to US officials struck just a few hundred meters from their position near the Syrian city of Kobani.
While there was no indication the attack was deliberate, Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General, told reporters at the Pentagon that Turkey had been told of Americans positions in Syria.
"The Turkish military is fully aware - down to explicit grid coordinate detail - of the locations of US forces," he said.
A senior Pentagon official told Newsweek the Turkish shelling was so heavy "US personnel considered firing back in self-defense". There are approximately 1000 US soldiers in Syria.
On Wednesday Turkey launched a cross-border incursion against the US-backed SDF it labels a “terror group” for its links to Kurdish group PKK, which is outlawed in Turkey.
The offensive began just days after President Donald Trump controversially announced the US would be pulling back troops and would not hinder a Turkish incursion, an action seen as abandoning their Kurdish allies.
Ankara has faced mounting criticism from its western allies and rights groups that have spoken of a brewing “humanitarian catastrophe” as well as the possible rebirth of Isis.