Although the Rescue government received file of prisons, cellars of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham swallow hundreds of its opponents and the fate of tens of them is unknown, brutal practices and tactics compete with those of the Syrian regime’s detentions
The fate of tens of prisoners and detainees in the central prison of Idlib west of Idlib city near Arab Saeed town, which is controlled by Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham; remains unknown, following the Russian airstrikes that targeted the prison on the 13th of March 2019, which back then killed and injured tens of people and a large number escaped from prison, where reliable sources told the Syrian Observatory that some prisoners of Tahrir al-Sham are still unaccounted for after the strikes, also Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham did not inform their relatives of their deaths or escape from prison, and at the same time, when the relatives of the prisoners asked about them they received no clear answer about their fate, as Tahrir al-Sham denies their presence in the central prison, and returning to the central Idlib prison; the prison accommodates more than 500 inmates in its normal condition, but Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham after controlling it; the number of prisoners reached more than 1000 according to sources of the Syrian Observatory, also the sources added that among the total number of prisoners there are children and women imprisoned by Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, which was initially denied by it, but after the Russian strikes in the middle of last month, hundreds of men, women, and children were seen on their way to the nearby checkpoints of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham to be transported to safe places.
The administration of Idlib Central Prison has been overseen by the “Ministry of Justice” of the Rescue Government since November 2017, after receiving the file supervising the civil prisons in Idlib and the file of the civil administration of services and population, in a step to enable the Government to receive the full civil files including the file of the prisons, at a time when the door is being opened on the prisoners’ file in the prisons of the factions, most notably Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham and especially the Prison of al-Iqab (the Punishment Prison), and the fate of the revolutionary movement prisoners and detainees of opinion in the prisons of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, this prison is being managed by people who are described as extreme, sadistic, and have a record of criminality according the people who were detained there and the fates wanted them to leave it alive.
And while the National Rescue Government spread rumors about handing over a large number of people who fled from the central prison of Idlib after the Russian strikes; Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham issued a statement that the Syrian Observatory obtained a copy of, which includes granting a decrease in sentence to the remaining people who fled the prison provided that they surrender themselves, and the reduction includes the punitive provisions of imprisonment to one third of the sentence, as well as the reduction of the money punitive provisions to quarter of the total amount of money, and the fugitives are guaranteed safety for their lives, and the security branch warned the prisoners who did not surrender after the expiry of the deadline to increase the penalties after arresting them, where Tahrir al-Sham limited the period to 4 days from the date of the announcement on the 16th of March 2019, and the statement explained that the prisoners who were under investigation would be included in decreasing the sentence when it is declared.
Following the statement, several prisoners of who escaped handed themselves over in accordance with this decision, which was later turned to be a ploy to trap them and motivate their families to surrender their children and benefit from the decrease in sentence, but they were victims of Tahrir al-Sham. Among the victims there is the young man Marwan Amqi of Idlib city, he hand himself over to Tahrir al-Sham in the central prison of Idlib which follows the Ministry of Justice of the Rescue Government. He died under torture as confirmed by the forensic report, which led to anger and congestion for his relatives and the people of Idlib in general, so, Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham rushed to dismiss the prison director known as “Abu Muaz,” in order to absorb the congestion and resentment which have been on the rise due to the violations of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham in in the streets of Idlib.
“The murder of the young man Marwan Amqi under torture; is not an accident in which removing the prison official Abu Muaz is enough to calm the people and absorb the anger of the street,” said the Dr. at Idlib University (Batoul al-Jendiyyeh) through social media sites, who was close to Tahrir al-Sham and was arrested earlier in the prisons of the Rescue Government for criticizing the Minister of Justice “Ibrahim Shasho”, and she spoke about the practices of the judicial prisons of acts of beatings, gas suffocation, and following an organized policy based on the oppression, humiliation, and extortion of prisoners, and the role of the prison director who mastered the brutal methods with high efficiency, and possesses absolute policies in managing the prison, perhaps those who entered the prisons of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham know that very well.
And in a first-of-its-kind behavior, before the Russian strikes Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham viewed images and names of cells belong to “Hmeimim” on social media sites, and the Syrian Observatory learned from several reliable sources that in the past, groups operating for the regime forces and Russia were arrested, which were active within the areas of control of Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham and the factions, but Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham has been keeping them for months and has not showed their images on its social media sites, the sources added that since then, Tahrir al-Sham has been negotiating through mediators.
With all of that, we believe that the situation has not changed as the Rescue Government received the file of the prisons effectively from Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, where the secret and notorious prisons are still present without any change, maybe al-Iqab prison is the best proof of this, who is considered one of the most prominent security branches for Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib, managed by security personnel most of them are of non-Syrian nationalities, and the prison is specialized in prosecuting the activists of the Syrian revolution, faction members who are against Hayyaat Tahrir al-Sham, and all who criticize Tahrir al-Sham, where hundreds of them have been imprisoned and some of whom are still unaccounted for until today.