ISIS could stage a bloody comeback after the devastating earthquake which has left nearly 20,000 people dead across Turkey and Syria.
At least 20 fighters are reported to have escaped from the infamous "Black Prison" in Rajo after the horrific quake – the most powerful of its kind for 100 years.
It is feared the terror group – which still remains active but weakened – could seek to exploit the chaos to stage a comeback.
But experts had warned The Sun Online even before the disaster that the apocalyptic death cult could be seeking to spread a new wave of terror in the region.
ISIS at the peak of its power controlled huge swathes of Iraq and Syria.
But it was driven back and smashed with what the US called a "100 percent territorial defeat" in 2019.
But terror cells linked to the group have since popped up around the Middle East.
The enormous 7.8 magnitude earthquake will only serve to help ISIS as they seek to exploit the carnage.
And it's feared the situation in Kurdistan – the historic region which spans across parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria – could lay the groundwork for the group's large-scale return.
The Kurds are a group who had been key in the fight against ISIS- but have since been attacked by Turkey and Iran.
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Güney Yildiz, a researcher who focuses on Kurdistan, Syria and Turkey, warned the volatile situation leaves the door open for the return of ISIS.
Speaking before the earthquake, Yildiz told The Sun Online: “If there is a political vacuum in a Muslim-majority country, a comeback is possible.
"If you remove the Kurdish-led administrations and the military force from the equation.
"Not only would ISIS operations increase in Syria, they would increase around the world."
Kurdish militant groups – once supported by the US – have stopped counter-terrorism military patrols in north Syria due to Turkey’s recent attacks.
The resurgence of the ISIS terror machine in the midst of new conflict from Turkey is “fully possible”, Yildiz said, as ISIS is not “ideologically defeated”.
He warned that security problems and terrorist activity could increase in the west if Kurdish governments are removed in northern Syria.
And this could also result in a new wave of up to 4 million refugees to western Europe, according to Yildiz.
Dr. Hamoon Khelghat-Doost, a professor of political science at the University of Lincoln, warned the earthquake will allow a resurgence by ISIS.
‘THE BLACK PRISON’
THE MILITARY prison in Rajo near the Turkish border holds around 2,000 inmates – some 1,300 believed to be members of ISIS.
It is in northwestern Syria, is controlled by a pro-Turkish faction, and also includes fighters from Kurdish forces.
But when the earthquake rocked the region – at least 20 ISIS prisoners are reported to have escaped.
Prison walls cracked and some of the doors were damaged, allowing the ISIS fighters to flee.
The jail is known as "The Black Prison".
It is reported to have a fearsome reputation, with overcrowded cells often left in total darkness.
Torture has been reported at the prison along with a so-called "solitary hole" – a seven-foot deep crater where inmates are left until they confess.
"The whole focus of Turkey and its allies is on how to respond to the devastating earthquake and its consequences," he told The Media Line.
"Any event, including natural disasters, that can divert the attention of a nation to a topic other than securing its borders is very much welcomed by extremist organizations such as ISIS"
Meanwhile, Dr. Bamo Nouri, an expert in Kurdistan and United States involvement in the Middle East, and agreed that Turkey’s military actions could result in ISIS regaining strength.
Dr. Nouri said: “An ISIS revival will come as a result of a Kurdish vacuum.
"They (Kurds) were at the forefront of the fight against ISIS then, and they are now."
Diliman Abdulkader, the co-founder of American Friends of Kurdistan, based in Washington, D.C, said Turkey’s recent actions are destabilising the region.
Abdulkader told The Sun Online: “What’s happening now is a repetitive attempt by Turkey to obstruct and destabilise the stability in Kurdistan.
"This continues to hinder the full defeat of ISIS, and is causing chaos in refugee camps."
For years, Turkey has attempted to establish a “safe zone” stretching 30km from their border into northern Syria, which has been met with harsh criticism.
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Abdulkader worries this so-called “safe zone” will be an excuse by Turkey to eliminate Kurdish people who reside in the region.
Turkey’s membership in NATO makes the attacks against groups in Kurdistan more complicated, Abdulkader said, especially as Russia still has ties to Syria.
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