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Turkey strikes Syria: US takes 2 militants tied to beheadings in Syria

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from a fire inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. Turkey launched a military operation Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria after U.S. forces pulled back from the area, with a series of airstrikes hitting a town on Syria's northern border.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

BEIRUT (AP) —  U.S. officials say two captive British militants believed to be part of an Islamic State group that beheaded hostages have been taken into American custody and moved out of Syria.

President Donald Trump said earlier Wednesday that the U.S. had transferred some Islamic State prisoners amid fears they could escape custody as Turkish troops invade northeastern Syria.

Officials say they took El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey out of Syria to an undisclosed location.

The two men and other British jihadis who made up the alleged IS cell that beheaded prisoners were nicknamed “The Beatles” by surviving captives because of their English accents. The cell beheaded seven American, British and Japanese journalists and aid workers and a group of Syrian soldiers in 2014 and 2015, boasting of the butchery in videos released to the world.

U.S. moves two ISIS fighters

President Donald Trump says the U.S. has moved some of the most dangerous Islamic State fighters detained in Syria to an unknown location where they can be watched during the Turkish military incursion into Syria.

Turkish troops invaded northern Syria on Wednesday to push back Kurdish fighters it views as terrorists.

The Kurds have been backed by the United States and they captured the last of IS-controlled territory in Syria in March.

The Kurds also hold thousands of IS fighters in detention centers. There was concern the detainees could gain freedom if the Kurdish forces left their guard posts to battle Turkish forces.

Trump says some “really bad” detained IS fighters have been moved, but he is not saying how many where moved or where or when they were relocated.

Turkey clamps down on social media

Turkey has begun cracking down on social media posts critical of the Turkish army’s offensive into northern Syria.

A statement from Turkey’s police directorate said Wednesday that it had initiated “necessary legal procedures” against 78 people it alleges “engaged in dark propaganda” against the military operation.

It also accuses the 78 of inciting hatred and making false claims “to undermine the reputation of our security forces.”

The statement adds: “We will continue our fight against crime and criminals in the virtual world as we do in every other field.”