TEL AVIV — Turkey has been working to bring thousands of Islamic State fighters to the region to launch campaigns in Iraq and Kurdish regions along the Syria-Iraq border, according to informed Middle Eastern defense officials.
The officials finger Turkish intelligence and military personnel as helping to facilitate a resurgence of IS to essentially work as proxies to attack Kurdish positions and pressure the West and regional actors into supporting Turkish interests in Syria. Some of the IS fighters are coming from camps inside Turkey where forces tied to Turkey have helped facilitate training, the officials said.
Turkey strongly opposes an independent Kurdish entity in Syria and has reportedly been pushing for control of a 20-mile deep buffer zone extending into northern Syria, arguing that only Turkey can ensure security in the area where Kurdish forces currently maintain autonomous zones. Any escalating clashes between IS and Kurdish forces could strengthen Turkey’s argument that only it can impose law and order in those zones.
However, the defense officials pointed out that it is Turkey that has been supporting extremists, especially dangerous Islamic fighters under the banner of IS.
The officials warned that Turkish actions are resulting in the formation of a new IS terror army that can wreak havoc in the region after U.S. and allied efforts under the Trump administration massively damaged the IS terror apparatus and essentially destroyed the previously emerging IS caliphate in the region.
Another possible threat could potentially come from IS terrorists, including foreigners, being freed from Kurdish prisons during any IS assault on Kurdish-controlled territory.
The alleged Turkish support for IS comes as Russia, Iran and Turkey held a series of trilateral meetings in recent weeks to discuss the future of Syria.
On Friday, the three countries issued a joint statement following a meeting in Kazakhstan declaring their opposition to the current autonomous zones in northern Syria established by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the largely Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The statement announced that Russia, Turkey and Iran “rejected … all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism.”
Last week, a panel of United Nations experts reported to the UN Security Council that there is evidence that IS is seeking to bring about an “eventual resurgence in its Iraqi and Syrian heartlands.”
The Associated Press reported:
The panel of experts said in a report to the Security Council this week that the process is more advanced in Iraq, where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and most of the militant group’s leadership are now based following the fall of the so-called “caliphate” that he declared in the two neighboring countries.
In Syria, where the last IS stronghold was toppled in March, the IS covert network is spreading and sleeper cells are being established at the provincial level, mirroring what has been happening in Iraq since 2017, the report said.
The UN report did not mention Turkey’s alleged role in aiding IS.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.