JEDDAH: Six members of Kurdish-led security forces and two militants were killed on Monday in an attack by Daesh aimed at freeing extremists from a jail in northern Syria.
The assault targeted a Kurdish security complex in Raqqa, the group’s former de facto capital in Syria, which includes a military intelligence prison housing militants, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The prison houses hundreds of extremists, including 200 high-level militants, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory, a Syrian war monitor in the UK. “The jihadists were targeting the military intelligence prison,” he said.
Kurdish-led authorities announced a state of emergency in Raqqa and put the city on lockdown as security forces hunted down Daesh fighters still at large.
Daesh admitted carrying out the attack and said two of its fighters had launched it, one of whom it claimed had escaped. The group said the aim of attack was to avenge “Muslim prisoners” and female relatives of militants living in the Kurdish-administered Al-Hol camp.
Al-Hol, home to more than 50,000 people, is the largest camp for displaced people who fled after the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces led the battle that dislodged Daesh fighters from the last scraps of their Syrian territory in 2019.
Farhad Shami, spokesman for the SDF, which controls Raqqa and Al-Hol, said Daesh had failed to come close to freeing the prison inmates. “Daesh failed to attack the prison because our forces thwarted their attack,” he said.
Security forces were still searching the area to arrest members of the cell, he added.
The attack was the most significant Daesh attempt to free prisoners since they launched their biggest assault in years in January, when they attacked the Ghwayran prison in the Kurdish-controlled city of Hasakeh.
Hundreds were killed in the assault that lasted for a week and aimed to free extremists held there.
Daesh took over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014, including Raqqa which was its main seat of power, but since losing its last significant piece of territory in Syria in 2019 it has resorted to guerrilla attacks.
Since early December, Daesh cells have dramatically increased their activity in SDF-held areas, with assassinations and attacks. The Syrian Observatory has documented 16 Daesh operations targeting SDF members in Deir Ezzor and Al-Hasakah, killing 11 people.