Many dead in IS attacks in Syria and Iraq

As of: 01/21/2022 8:47 p.m

More than 70 people have died in two attacks by the terrorist militia IS. In Syria, the Islamists attacked a prison. A military base was attacked in neighboring Iraq.

More than 70 people have been killed in attacks by the terrorist militia “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. IS fighters attacked a prison in north-east Syria in order to free jihadists imprisoned there. More than 20 Kurdish security forces and almost 40 IS members were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Eleven soldiers were killed in an IS raid on a military base in eastern Iraq. The IS militia claimed responsibility for the attacks in Syria and Iraq through its Amaq propaganda mouthpiece.

Syria: Dozens of prisoners escape

IS fighters launched the attack on the Syrian Ghwajran prison in Hassakeh on Thursday evening. Around 3,500 suspected IS fighters are in the detention center, including leading representatives of the militia. At least 23 Kurdish security forces and 39 IS fighters were killed in the fighting, according to the UK-based Observatory for Human Rights. Dozens of prisoners escaped.

The aim of storming the prison in Hassakeh was “to free the prisoners,” the extremists said.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, which is dominated by Kurdish fighters, claims to have arrested 89 prisoners shortly after they escaped from prison. After an attempt to escape during the night, there was a “second mass escape attempt by IS fighters” from prison.

Biggest attack since 2019

Fighting near the asylum continued today. Some IS fighters holed up in nearby houses and used residents as human shields, the SDF said.

According to the observatory, which is difficult to independently verify, it was the largest attack of its kind since the ISIS “caliphate” was crushed in 2019. Since then, the remaining fighters have either gone into hiding or retreated to more remote locations. The international anti-IS coalition said the jihadist group still posed “an existential threat” in Syria and that the militia should not be allowed to regain strength.

IS fighters in Iraq mainly in rural areas

In 2014, IS took control of large parts of Iraq and Syria. In 2017, the Iraqi government declared its victory over the extremist group.

However, smaller groups of IS fighters are still active, especially in the rural areas north of Baghdad and in the provinces of Diyala and Salaheddin. A UN report last year put the number of IS fighters still active in Iraq and Syria at a total of 10,000.

The IS presence in eastern Syria, on the border with Iraq, extends primarily to desert areas that are under semi-autonomous Kurdish administration. Until 2017, Iraq relied on the US-led military alliance to fight ISIS. But now the government in Baghdad has to deal with this task itself because the military coalition has ceased combat operations. Coalition troops are still in the country, but they are only engaged in exercise and advisory work.

So far there is no evidence that the attacks in Syria and Iraq were coordinated actions. Experts saw the attacks as part of IS efforts to expand its presence in both countries.

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