"250 ISIS members sent from Jarablus to Europe"

According to Mihemed Casim El Hesen, who has defected from the Turkey-affiliated “Euphrates Shield” groups to join the SDF, 250 ISIS members have been sent to Europe from Jarablus.

Mihemed Casim El Hesen was an officer of the Free Syrian Army, which participated alongside other groups in the Turkish-led invasion operation "Euphrates Shield" on the triangle area between Jarablus, Azaz and Bab. He then joined the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Speaking to the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), El Hesen said Turkey has very close ties with Islamist groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra.

33 years old Mihemed Casim El Hesen is from Dêir ez-Zor and was a former police officer. In 2012, according to his own statements, he joined the FSA. After the invasion of the area by the ISIS and Al-Nusra, he went to Hatay province south of Turkey, then to Jarablus, where the Turkish army and the Euphrates Shield groups have taken control. "There I was responsible for the contact between the tribes from Dêir ez-Zor and the Euphrates Shield commanders”, he says.

According to El Hesen, Turkey asked the tribes of Dêir ez-Zor to join the Euphrates Shield militia and to participate in operations planned in Raqqa and Dêir ez-Zor. For that they had been promised shares in the areas. "Turkey was constantly making anti-propaganda against the SDF which they said was consisted of only Kurds and hated all Arabs and wanted to split Syria, they said.”

After the invasion of Turkey in Jarablus and Azaz, the contradictions between the Euphrates Shield groups accumulated, said El Hesen, noting that some of these were moving independently in some way.


El Hesen also provided significant information about the operation on Jarablus which Turkey entered with the Euphrates Shield and took over from ISIS in just three hours. He told:

"Turkey negotiated the takeover of Jarablus with ISIS before the operation. Russia and the Syrian regime were also informed about this negotiation. There was a meeting between Russian, Syrian and Turkish officials in Karkamış before the operation. When the Turkish troops entered Jarablus, 250 selected ISIS fighters were taken to Kilis and Antep via the Karkamış border crossing. One of the people responsible for the transport was me. Later I learned that these ISIS fighters had been sent to Europe. Other ISIS fighters were brought to Bab, Hama and Raqqa with their families.”


El Hesen gave significant details regarding the scenario of clashes in Jarablus and continued; "In a village near Jarablus, ISIS fighters opened fire and injured three Turkish soldiers. This engagement was either a mistake or an intent to give the impression that fighting was taking place between the Turkish military and the ISIS. In addition, no fighting took place. There were no ISIS members there."


With the capture of Jarablus and Azaz, the Euphrates Shield groups started committing plunder, repression, theft and torture, El Hesen said and added: "Every day dozens of people came to complain the groups to the Turkish authorities. The people said these groups knew them and they thought it was worse than under the ISIS. The Turks just listened to them and did nothing. Turkish classes were started in the schools. The population went out in protest four times, but the Turks just kept on going their own way.”


The Euphrates Shield groups settled several families from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in the place of the Kurdish and Arab residents, thus changing the demographic structure, according to El Hesen. He said the opposing Kurds and Arabs were forced to migrate.

In addition, people from Jarablus, El Rai (Çobanbey) and Azaz, who lived in camps in Turkey, were given military training in Urfa and Antep and from there they were taken to the areas controlled by the Euphrates Shield groups. In return for participation in these groups, they were given a salary of 200 dollars.


Many people had fled to Efrîn after suffering from the atrocity of Turkish military and the allied groups, according to El Hesen.

Remarking that local people favor the life in Efrîn and Manbij, El Hesen said: "People tell each other that each population group is represented in the local administration and a communal life is led. They also want such a system for their own regions. They can’t understand why Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army enter their lands.”

El Hesen underlined that the Euphrates Shield groups reject a joint attack with the Turkish military on Efrîn, saying: "Two major attacks have taken place and the SDF responded immediately and effectively. The groups suffered many losses. That's why they are afraid to attack Efrîn and they were demoralized after the defeat. They say now that the SDF cannot be defeated because they fight in guerrilla manner. They also say that they can never triumph over SDF.”


Commenting on his own motives for moving from the FSA to the SDF, El Hesen explained: "The FSA came into being to fight the regime, but now it serves the Turkish state. Turkey uses the FSA only for its own interests and gives ISIS much more support. Many relatives and acquaintances of mine told me how the SDF approached the people after the liberation of Manbij, Raqqa and the rural areas of Dêir ez-Zor. That's how I realized what it really is. Many of the Euphrates Shield fighters and especially those from Dêir ez-Zor want to go with their families to SDF-controlled areas. I talked to 300 friends of mine in the Euphrates Shield and told them how the SDF behaves me. Now they all want to come.”