ISIS detainees stage jailbreak at SDF-held prison in northeast Syria

An unknown number of Islamic State fighters at a prison in northeast Syria's Hasakah province broke out on Sunday night after temporarily gaining control of part of the facility where thousands of inmates affiliated to the extremist organization are held, according to prison officials.
author_image Hisham Arafat

HASAKAH, Syria (Kurdistan 24) – An unknown number of Islamic State fighters at a prison in northeast Syria's city of Hasakah broke out on Sunday night after temporarily gaining control of part of the facility where thousands of inmates affiliated to the extremist organization are held, according to prison officials.

A Kurdistan 24 reporter on the scene afterward said that some “walls are damaged and halls open,” but that “the situation is under control.”

Later, a member of the administration of Geweran Prison, under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made a statement to the media, including Kurdistan 24. At the press briefing, he confirmed that Islamic State prisoners did, in fact, stage a successful jailbreak.

In a livestreamed statement, prison official Rubar Hesen said, “The inmates damaged security cameras at the main entrance to the prison, broke through walls between cells and the entrance, and then seized control of part of the prison.” 

“A number of them were able to leave, but we don’t know how many,” he continued. “A state of emergency will continue through tomorrow until we have determined where they have gone.”

SDF media spokesperson Mustafa Bali also confirmed that some prisoners managed to escape and that the SDF forces are now searching for them, saying, “The situation is currently very tense inside the prison and we have sent anti-terror forces and additional troops there to maintain control.”

Later, Col. Myles B. Caggins III, spokesperson for the coalition formally known as Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), told Kurdistan 24, “The Coalition is assisting our Syrian Democratic Forces partners with aerial surveillance as they quell an uprising at Hasakah detention facility.”  

“The facility holds low-level ISIS members,” said Caggins, adding, “The CJTF-OIR does not staff any detention camps in Syria.

A state of emergency was declared in surrounding areas by the SDF and their affiliated units, including anti-terror units, internal forces known as Asayish, and also forces from the US-led coalition.

The Kurdistan 24 journalist on location reported heavy overflight of Coalition warplanes over Hasekah in the hours following the breakout.

The SDF and the Coalition continue to warn of the ongoing threat posed by the Islamic State in Syria.

On Tuesday, a Coalition statement provided statistics on its recent airstrikes targeting the terrorist group in both Syria and Iraq. 

Read More: Coalition tallies airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria 

In February, the most recent month detailed, the statement said the Coalition had “conducted a total of 18 strikes consisting of 48 engagements in Iraq and Syria.” 

Editing by John J. Catherine
(Wladimir van Wilgenburg contributed to this report)