General Michael Kurilla, the Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) paid a visit on Thursday to part of northeast Syria controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Kurilla travelled to the region just days after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley’s visit to a US base in northeast Syria last Saturday to evaluate the mission led by armed Kurdish groups against the Islamic State (ISIS) since 2014.
Milley’s visit angered Ankara, which sees the Kurdish armed groups in northeast Syria as a national security threat, and the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador to give an explanation for the visit.
Krill’s aim with the visit was to speak with American troops and to inspect sites critical to the ongoing efforts to defeat ISIS, according to CENTCOM.
The commander visited the SDF-controlled al-Hasakah detention facility which houses more than 5,000 detained ISIS fighters. “In visiting the detention facility, I saw the looming threat posed by this group of detained ISIS fighters,” Kurilla said.
Kurilla also visited al-Hol and Roj Camps which are home to over 2,500 people displaced as a result of the fight against the jihadi group. Some 96% of the people staying in Roj Camp are women and children affiliated to ISIS, according to Kurdish sources.
“The only solution to the lingering threat posed by ISIS in the camp is the repatriation, rehabilitation and reintegration of residents to their countries of origin,” Kurilla said in response to detainees expressing their willingness to return to their countries of origin.
CENTCOM added that both the SDF and the camp administrators had informed Kurilla that ISIS continues to recruit within the camp, but that the situation has improved dramatically since the latest SDF security operation in September 2022.
“Alongside the SDF, we continue to put pressure on ISIS in Syria,” Kurilla concluded. “The fight against ISIS is a fight for security and stability of not only Syria and Iraq, but the entire region. We absolutely cannot allow a resurgence of ISIS,” he said.