(CNN) — At least 7 fighters of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” allied with the United States were killed in the fight against the “Islamic State” organization when elements of the organization tried to release thousands of its members imprisoned in Ghweran prison in the city of Hasaka, Thursday, an attack Confirms fears of a possible return of ISIS.
According to the opposition “Syrian Democratic Forces”, the attack on the prison, northeast of Al-Hasakah city, began with a car bomb explosion outside the prison, then ISIS elements attacked the forces guarding the prison, while gunmen inside the prison burned plastic blankets and tools “in an attempt to spread chaos.” It is clear whether these actions were coordinated or whether the prisoners saw what was happening as an opportunity to sow confusion at the appropriate time.
The SDF said Thursday that it had “thwarted” the attempt to escape from the prison, however, there were reports of small clashes in the area on Friday.
ISIS said, in a statement, on Friday, that it launched a “large-scale attack to liberate the entire prison.” The commander of the “Syrian Democratic Forces”, later on Friday, said that they repelled the attack with air support from the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, During a press conference at the Pentagon, on Friday, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that air strikes had been carried out in support of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” while thwarting the escape of prisoners.
The director of the media center of the “Syrian Democratic Forces”, Farhad al-Shami, told CNN, on Friday, that the “Syrian Democratic Forces” had killed 28 ISIS militants in the clashes.
In a statement, the “Syrian Democratic Forces” said that at least 89 prisoners managed to escape but were arrested, and added that many of the militants involved in the attack were believed to be hiding in civilian homes near the prison, forcing the authorities to set up a checkpoint.
There are between 11,000 and 12,000 ISIS fighters held in prisons and detention camps in northern Syria run by the “Syrian Democratic Forces.”
Although this is not the first attempt of its kind to escape from prison, many ISIS elements escaped in 2020 by smashing doors and using them to break a wall, but fears are growing that the timing and boldness of the attack indicate the renewed strength of the terrorist organization, which claimed responsibility for an attack that resulted in “Attempts to revive terrorism in the region cannot be underestimated,” Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Twitter.
ISIS was associated with carrying out large-scale terrorist attacks at the height of its power in 2014 and 2015, when it ruled what the organization called the so-called “caliphate state” that extended over vast areas of Syria and Iraq, and later the terrorist organization was expelled, but many warned that the militants ISIS may continue to operate in the shadows.
In 2019, the head of the Iraqi Military Intelligence at the time, Lieutenant-General Saad Al-Alaq, warned that such attempts to escape from prisons had been planned and said that ISIS called a new mission “breaking down the walls”, aimed at storming the prisons where ISIS are being held and trying to return Building an organizational structure.
In recent months, Iraqi security forces have warned that ISIS will continue to try to regroup to launch such deadly attacks, while some senior leaders have warned that the group’s sleeper cells continue to launch deadly attacks in the region.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered increased security measures on the Iraqi-Syrian border following the attack on the prison Friday.
Hussein Allawi, Al-Kazemi’s adviser, said the Iraqi security forces still need to develop their intelligence efforts to be able to fend off such coordinated attacks by various terrorist groups.
“We need to develop the intelligence effort of the Iraqi armed forces through technical equipment, thermal cameras, and modern dungeons,” Allawi told CNN.
Allawi also said that the Iraqi armed forces need to continue to cooperate with the US-led coalition in Iraq, which is no longer engaged in combat missions since 2021.
The coalition is now focused on training and assistance, but its existence remains controversial as the Iraqi government is under tremendous pressure from Iran-backed Shiite militias to end the presence of US forces in Iraq.
The prison attack is a powerful reminder of the challenges of fighting extremists like ISIS and the readiness of Iraqi security forces to fend off terrorist attacks.
Source: CNN Arabic