SDF retakes ISIS prison in Syria’s Hasakah after days of fighting

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – After days of fighting between SDF fighters and ISIS members in the vicinity of the prison, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced in a press statement on Wednesday that they regained full control of the al-Sina’a prison in Hasakah’s Guweiran neighborhood, after all the ISIS members surrendered to SDF.

The last group of ISIS militants surrendered to the SDF in al-Sina’a prison on Wednesday. 

Al-Sina’a prison houses thousands of ISIS detainees, who were arrested by SDF during the years of war against the extremist organization. 

“For several days, we had faced ISIS attacks once again,” said Newroz Ahad, a female leader of the SDF, in a statement of SDF today in front of the College of Civil Engineering and Economics in Guweiran neighborhood. 

“Before now, ISIS had tried twice to plan and attack Guweiran prison, but their attacks were thwarted by our security forces,” she said. 

“ISIS attack this time was stronger as it was planned by outside parties, and preparations for this attack were already made according to the information we obtained from the attacking prisoners,” Ahmad added. 

“The attack was partly planned in Iraq, and partly in Turkey and the areas under the control of Turkey, such as Sere Kaniye and Tel Abyad in northeast Syria, and part of it in the Syrian Badia,” Newroz Ahmad noted.

The start of the attack

On January 20, clashes began between SDF supported by the Global Coalition and ISIS sleeper cells attackers helped by detainees escaped from the prison.

The attack was carried out by 200-300 of ISIS members, according to the SDF statement. 

The attackers entered the area from outside, with the help of its sleeper cells spread in the area. 

Before their attack, the attackers had infiltrated into the neighborhoods of Guweiran, al-Nashwa, al-Zohour and the building of the Faculty of Economics adjacent to the prison in the city of Hasakah, SDF statement noted. 

Members of ISIS sleeper cells targeted the guards of al-Sina’a prison, wounding two guards, North Press reported a security source on January 20. 

Sporadic clashes took place in the vicinity of al-Sina’a prison and on the outskirts of al-Zohour neighborhood after ISIS members fled to it. 

On January 21, SDF cordoned off the vicinity of al-Sina’a prison, following ISIS attack on the prison which was preceded by three explosions near the prison. 

Mass displacement

The clashes between the SDF and ISIS caused a mass displacement of the residents of the neighborhoods of Guweiran, al-Zohour, al-Nashwa and Villat al-Humr towards the central and northern neighborhoods of Hasakah.

North Press correspondent in Hasakah, Jindar Abdulaqader, sustained a shoulder injury as a result of a traffic accident while covering the ongoing clashes.

Militants affiliated with ISIS prevented more than 289 families from leaving al-Zohour neighborhood, west of the prison, to reach areas under the control of the SDF, according to the SDF Media Center. 

However, some managed to leave Guweiran neighborhood and gathered in an area near al-Beiruti Bridge in Hasakah.

On January 21, the US-led Global Coalition warplanes bombed a site in al-Zohour, where residents said ISIS members were present in. 

Shells launched by the coalition aircraft were preceded by sporadic clashes in the vicinity of al-Sina’a prison and on the outskirts of al-Zohour neighborhood, after ISIS members fled to it. 

Coincidently, the General Command of the Internal Security Forces of North and East Syria (Asayish) imposed a complete curfew in the city of Hasakah, with the closure of entry and exit to the city. 

ISIS member liquidation

“The Guweiran prison witnessed a wave of liquidation among ISIS mercenaries,” the SDF Media Center said. 

A group of ISIS inside the prison killed more than seven other detainees who tried to surrender themselves to SDF, according to the SDF Media Center. 

On January 21, the SDF arrested about 110 ISIS detainees, who had managed to escape from al-Sina’a prison.

The ISIS prisoners were returned to the prisons in northeast Syria. 

The SDF also managed to drag the bodies of two members of ISIS who were killed during the clashes that took place in the vicinity of al-Sina’a prison and the nearby neighborhoods, one of whom was of Asian nationality.

This attack by the ISIS sleeper cells is the biggest attempt to mass escape from prison since the organization was declared defeated three years ago in Baghouz town in the countryside of Deir ez-Zor. 

ISIS members had begun to surrender to SDF. Today, the SDF Media Center revealed that about a thousand ISIS members in al-Sina’a prison surrendered.

After that, groups of ISIS members began to surrender to the SDF, and the SDF announced in its latest statement that “SDF is taking the surrendered to safer places now.”

The SDF is currently conducting a complete combing operation of the prison.

It should be known that ten thousand members of SDF plus Asayish participated in the “Operation Peoples Hammer” against ISIS in Guweiran’s prison, according to Newroz Ahmad. 

Reporting by Dilsoz Youssef/Jindar Abdulqader