Kurds are under attack from Turkey in northern Syria where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) currently hold thousands of suspected IS prisoners.
They said they will no longer prioritize guarding Islamic State detainees if the offensive continues
Areas in north-eastern Syria under SDF control have come under heavy bombardment from Turkey since it launched its offensive on Wednesday.
More than 50 civilians have reportedly died on both sides of the border.
Turkey accuses the Kurds of being terrorists and says it wants to drive them away from a “safe zone” reaching some 30km into Syria. It also plans to resettle more than three million Syrian refugees in the zone who are currently in Turkey.
In another development, a female Kurdish politician and women’s rights activist was among nine civilians killed on a road in northern Syria on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group said.
Hervin Khalaf, secretary general of the Future Syria Party, was ambushed and shot dead along with a driver and an aide after returning from a meeting in Hasaka, her party said.
The SDF said that Turkish-backed fighters had taken Khalaf out of her car and executed her. SOHR said the nine had been killed at different times in “field executions” along the road.
A spokesman for the Turkish-backed rebel group the Syrian National Army denied carrying out the killings, saying it had not advanced that far, Reuters reported.
According to the UN, more than 100,000 people have already been displaced from areas under Kurdish control. The Kurdish administration in north-eastern Syria puts the figure much higher, at more than 191,000.
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from the area effectively triggered the Turkish incursion against the SDF – the main Western allies in the fight against IS.
Fighting on the Syrian border with Turkey has prevented the SDF from securing IS detention camps in areas under its control, senior official Redur Xelil said in a televised statement on Saturday.
“Guarding IS prisons is no longer a priority. Whoever cares about the secure detention of the prisoners they are welcome to come and find a solution.”
Instead, he said, SDF forces would “move to protect our cities and our people”.
He warned that the Turkish operation was opening the way for IS to regroup.
“It has revived it and activated its cells in Qamishli and Hassakeh,” he said.