Hundreds of Islamic State supporters escaped from a holding camp in northern Syria on Sunday amid heavy clashes between invading Turkish-led forces and Kurdish fighters. A US military official said the situation was "deteriorating rapidly," the AP reports. The official, who was not authorized to disclose operational details and spoke on condition of anonymity, said US troops were unable to travel on the ground without a "high risk" of confrontation with Turkey-backed forces. The Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria said 785 people affiliated with the Islamic State at the camp got away, per the Washington Post. Kurdish officials and aid groups said thousands of civilians were also fleeing across fields to escape the shelling. The US military had told the aid workers to evacuate.
The danger to American forces was shown on Friday, when a small number of troops came under Turkish artillery fire at an observation post in the north. No Americans were hurt. On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled out any mediation in the dispute with the Kurds, saying Turkey won't negotiate with "terrorists." Turkey, a NATO member, views the Syrian Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey, and it has vowed to carve out a "safe zone" along the border. The holding camp is in Ain Issa, a town along the main supply route into and out of the country for US troops. (Meanwhile, President Trump has ordered most of the remaining US troops in the north to evacuate.)