Escaped Inmates from Iraq Fuel Syrian Insurgency – Tim Arango and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
A series of daring breakouts from Iraqi prisons has freed hundreds of hardened militants who are now among the leaders and foot soldiers of the radical Sunni groups operating in neighboring Syria and in Iraq itself.
The surging demand for experienced fighters led to a concerted effort by militant groups, particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, to seek them in the one place where they were held en masse – Iraq’s prison cells.
In all, American officials estimate, a few hundred of the escapees have joined ISIS, several in senior leadership roles.
“The influx of these terrorists, who collectively have decades of battlefield experience, probably has strengthened the group and deepened its leadership bench,” an American counterterrorism official said.
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