United States officials not aware of escape of Islamic State extremists, Mike Pence leaving for Turkey in 24 hours

AFP Washington, United States Oct 15, 2019, 10.37 PM(IST)

Vice President Mike Pence (File photo) Photograph:( AFP )

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The United States is not aware of any "major" escape of Islamic State extremists.

The United States is not aware of any "major" escape of Islamic State extremists since Turkey launched its assault on Syrian Kurdish fighters holding the prisoners, an official said Tuesday.

"We haven't seen any major successful breakout so far of the detainees," the senior administration official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

His remarks appeared at odds with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper who, criticising Turkey on Monday, said the incursion "resulted in the release of many dangerous ISIS detainees."

Vice President Mike Pence will leave within 24 hours to Ankara to press Turkey for a ceasefire in its offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters, a US official said Tuesday.

"We will launching off to Ankara in the next 24 hours," the official said, a day after Pence announced his trip to Turkey without specifying the timing.

Turkey on Tuesday vowed to pursue its Syria offensive and slammed a "dirty deal" between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Kurdish forces after the withdrawal of US forces from northern Syria. 

"We will continue to combat all terrorist groups, including Daesh, whether or not the world agrees to support our efforts," Fahrettin Altun, communications director at the Turkish presidency, told AFP, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.

Turkish presidency slams 'dirty deal' between Syria's Assad and Kurdish forces.