The United States on Saturday condemned the recent Islamic State (ISIS) attack on a prison housing thousands of the terror group’s members in northeast Syria (Rojava), which led to clashes between the militants and the Kurdish forces in the area.
ISIS attempted to break thousands of its affiliates and members from Hasaka’s Ghweran prison on Thursday, raging a fight between the group and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
“Attacking the detention facility was a top ISIS priority for more than a year. It is a credit to the diligent, capable efforts of the SDF and Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS forces that they were able to thwart numerous attacks during that period and limit the severity of this one,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
This assault highlights “the importance of, and the need to fully fund, the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS’s initiatives to improve the secure and humane detention of ISIS fighters, including by strengthening detention facility security,” Price added.
The fight between ISIS and the SDF continues on its fourth day on Sunday, a Rudaw reporter from Rojava said.
ISIS controlled swathes of Syrian territories in 2014. The offensive on the Ghweran prison in Rojava is one of the most significant since the terror group’s so-called caliphate was defeated in Syria in 2019.
The attack on Ghweran prison also “underscores the urgent need for countries of origin to repatriate, rehabilitate, reintegrate, and prosecute, where appropriate, their nationals detained in northeast Syria,” the US official noted.
At least 125 people, including ISIS members, civilians, and security forces have been killed in the violence since Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Sunday.
A Kurdish official on Saturday blamed the recent ISIS attack on the international community’s failure to respond to the terror group’s threat as a global issue.
“The massive attack by dozens of Daesh [ISIS] members on Al-Hasakah prison and its repercussions are the result of the international community’s failure to shoulder its responsibilities towards this big and serious issue, which we consider to be an international problem,” the co-chair of Rojava’s foreign relations commission Abdulkarim Omar said in a tweet.
ISIS claimed that around 800 of its members and affiliates have managed to escape Ghweran prison, it said on its propaganda Telegram channel on Saturday. However, SOHR noted that several others have been recaptured.
The fight has triggered an exodus of civilians from neighborhoods around the prison. On Thursday, the SDF said ISIS used the people as “human shields” after the terror group infiltrated from surrounding areas and later hid in civilian houses.
Ghweran and al-Shaddadi prison in Hasaka hold an estimated number of 7,500 Syrian and foreign ISIS suspects, including children, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in 2020. Around 5,000 people are detained in Ghweran, which was formerly a school and is now controlled by the SDF.