Kurdish forces recapture Syrian prison after battle with Daesh

Kurdish forces recapture Syrian prison after battle with Daesh
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) deploy around Ghwayran prison in Syria's northeastern city of Hasakeh on January 25, 2022, which was taken over by Daesh group fighters days earlier. (AFP)
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Updated 27 January 2022

Kurdish forces recapture Syrian prison after battle with Daesh

Kurdish forces recapture Syrian prison after battle with Daesh
  • A tense stand-off has gripped the prison, with Kurdish forces and their Daesh rivals facing either a bloodbath or talks to end the fighting

JEDDAH: Kurdish forces recaptured a prison in northeast Syria on Wednesday after six days of fighting following an attack by Daesh to free jailed fighters.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said the battle had “culminated with our entire control” over Ghwayran Prison in the city of Hassakeh, and about 1,000 Daesh members had surrendered.

US and other anti-Daesh coalition forces stepped in to support Kurdish elite units, the neighborhood around the prison was secured and the besieged militants inside began giving themselves up.

The jail held about 3,500 Daesh prisoners when the initial attack was launched on Jan. 20 with explosives-laden vehicles steered by suicide bombers.

More than 180 people, mostly Daesh fighters, died in the militant group’s most significant operation since their “caliphate” collapsed three years ago.

Thousands of Hassakeh residents were forced to leave their homes when the fighting began last Thursday.

In one mosque a safe distance from the violence, hundreds
of women and children were
huddled together in the biting winter cold.

“We want to go back home,” said Maya, 38, a mother trying in vain to pacify her youngest child. “There is no bread, water or sugar here.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the monitoring group based in Britain, said the fighting had killed 124 Daesh militants, 50 Kurdish fighters and seven civilians. The death toll may rise as Kurdish forces and medical staff gain access to all parts of the prison after the end of the attack.

Kurdish forces had cut off food and water to the jail for two days to pressure holdout militants to give themselves up.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said a Syrian militant had negotiated with Kurdish forces to end the standoff and secure medical care for wounded Daesh fighters.

Ghwayran jail held the largest number of Daesh prisoners in Syria, and there were warnings on Wednesday that the jailbreak should serve as a wake-up call. More than 12,000 Daesh members of more than 50 nationalities are held in Kurdish-run prisons.

“This is a global problem that requires many nations to come together to develop an enduring long-term solution,” the coalition said on Wednesday. “The makeshift prisons throughout Syria are a breeding ground for Daesh.

The Kurdish administration says it does not have the capacity to hold all the captured Daesh fighters, let alone put them on trial. “We cannot face it alone,” the administration’s top foreign policy official, Abdulkarim Omar, said on Wednesday.

He called on the international community to “support the autonomous administration to improve security and humanitarian conditions … in detention centers and overcrowded camps.”