More fighting after IS attack on Syrian prison

Status: 01/22/2022 3:17 p.m

In the Syrian city of Al-Hassaka, fighting between the terrorist militia IS and Kurdish fighters continues. IS attacked a prison there on Thursday. Apparently almost 80 people have already been killed.

Two days after an attack by “Islamic State” (IS) on a prison in Al-Hassakah, Syria, fighting in the city continues. The jihadists of the terrorist militia and the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) face each other. The latter are supported by the USA with airstrikes.

According to SDF spokesman Siamand Ali, fighting was concentrated in the area around the prison and in the Suhur district. In the prison, a small part of the building is held by rampaging inmates.

According to figures from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 78 people have been killed in the fighting so far. Among them are 45 IS supporters, 28 Kurdish fighters and five civilians. Syrian media reported that around 4,000 people had fled to parts of the city or suburbs controlled by the Syrian government.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is based in Great Britain and wants to document human rights violations in Syria. She describes herself as independent. The Observatory’s information cannot be independently verified.

Prisoners can escape by attacking

The IS had attacked the prison in Kurdish-controlled north-eastern Syria on Thursday evening. Alleged IS fighters are imprisoned there, including leading representatives of the militia. The SDF speak of around 5,000 IS supporters who are currently in prison.

As a result of the IS attack, several of the prisoners were able to escape, but it is not known exactly how many there are. The SDF announced that numerous fugitives have now been recaptured. By Friday alone, almost 90 escaped inmates had been arrested again.

According to the SDF, the picture shows escaped prisoners who were arrested again.

Image: dpa

Biggest attack since 2019

According to the observatory, whose data can hardly be verified independently, it was the largest attack of this kind since the “IS caliphate” was crushed in 2019. Since then, the remaining fighters have either disappeared 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 addition to the attack on the prison, IS said it also attacked a military base in eastern Iraq on Thursday. Eleven soldiers were killed. The militia took credit for the attacks in Syria and Iraq through its Amaq propaganda mouthpiece. 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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