ISIS prison riot ends after talks in north-east Syria

ISIS prison riot ends after talks in north-east Syria
ISIS prison riot ends after talks in north-east Syria

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Imprisoned members of the ISIS rioted and took control of a prison in northeast Syria for several hours, until Kurdish-led authorities negotiated an end to the unrest.

The riot began Saturday at a prison in the city of Hassakeh, one of the largest facilities where ISIS members are held, and control was re-established on Sunday evening, said Kino Gabriel, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

A two-day riot and takeover of the same prison in late March allowed four extremists to escape, although they were caught a day later. It was one of the most serious uprisings by the prisoners since ISIS was defeated a year ago, when the SDF seized control of the last sliver of land controlled by the extremists in eastern Syria.

Kurdish authorities currently operate more than two dozen detention facilities scattered across north-east Syria, holding about 10,000 ISIS fighters. Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans.

Gabriel said SDF officials and members of the US-led coalition had taken part in talks with the prisoners. At the height of the riots, he said Kurdish special forces and anti-terror units took part in the operations to try get the situation under control. He gave no further details and did not say how many prisoners were involved or if there were any casualties.

US military helicopters flew over the prison Sunday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, and North Press Agency, a media platform operating in the Kurdish-administered areas.

Gabriel said the US-led coalition and the international community bear responsibility for finding solutions for ISIS detainees, and need to give more support to security and living conditions at the prisons.

A recent resurgence of ISIS attacks in both Syria and Iraq has raised concerns that the militant group is taking advantage of governments absorbed in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing slide into economic chaos.

It was not immediately clear if Sunday’s prison riot was triggered by concerns about the coronavirus’s potential spread in the facility.

Last month, the US-led coalition said it gave hygiene and medical supplies to detention facilities across north-east Syria, including hand-washing stations, disinfectant wipes, face masks and examination gloves.

One coronavirus death was reported in Kurdish-held areas of Syria in April. The central government in Damascus has registered 43 cases and three deaths.

Updated: May 4, 2020 08:14 AM

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