Washington D.C: Expressing uncertainty over Turkey’s recently launched military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria, President Donald Trump on late Wednesday (local time) said that in case the former ‘lose control’, the United States has already taken custody of two high-profile members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group who became notorious for beheading hostages and boasting about it in videos.
“In case the Kurds or Turkey lose control, the United States has already taken the 2 ISIS militants tied to beheadings in Syria, known as the Beetles, out of that country and into a secure location controlled by the U.S. They are the worst of the worst!” the President tweeted.
In case the Kurds or Turkey lose control, the United States has already taken the 2 ISIS militants tied to beheadings in Syria, known as the Beetles, out of that country and into a secure location controlled by the U.S. They are the worst of the worst!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019
The two men, previously held in Syria by Kurdish-led fighters, were reportedly moved out of the country as Turkey started an offensive there.
Earlier in the day, Trump said that a “certain number” of IS fighters had been removed from Syria, amid concerns that Kurdish-led fighters would be unable to keep guarding the prisoners as the Turkish operation continued.
“We are taking some of the most dangerous ISIS fighters out and we’re putting them in different locations where it’s secure,” the President was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera during a press briefing at the White House.
Turkey has launched an assault on the Syrian-Kurdish forces – US allies in the fight against ISIL – sparking fears that the offensive could lead to captured fighters escaping and reconstituting the group.
US media reports identified the two as El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey; part of an extremely violent four-man cell that kidnapped and tortured foreigners, including journalists, at the height of ISIL’s power in Syria and Iraq.
One other person was killed in a drone attack and the fourth is in prison in Turkey.
Following the launch of Turkey’s offensive, the President threatened to devastate Ankara’s economy if its operation wipes out the Kurdish population in Syria.