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The New Arab Staff

Riot breaks out at Syria prison holding IS militants

The prison houses some 5,000 inmates, most of whom hold foreign passports [AFP]

Date of publication: 20 September, 2020

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The riot comes ten days after a similar incident, sparked when prison officials discovered an escape tunnel dug into the prison walls.
Suspected Islamic State prisoners staged a riot in a jail in northeast Syria on Saturday, prompting a mobilisation of forces from Syrian Kurdish authorities and the anti-IS international coalition, The New Arab’s Arabic-language service report.

Prison officials were alerted to the incident after IS inmates at Ghouiran, tucked away in a manufacturing district in the city Al-Hasakeh, launched a revolt and refused to take prison orders, sources told The New Arab.

Troops closed off the road leading to the prison on arrival, as military aircraft circled Al-Hasakeh skies overhead, a city run by a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration.

The riot comes ten days after a similar incident, sparked when prison officials discovered an escape tunnel dug into the prison walls.

Suspected IS prisoners frequently launch uprisings at Ghouirian, over alleged mistreatment from Kurdish authorities. They have reportedly demanded that the prison administration be transferred to the international coalition.

During a crackdown on one riot, authorities shot at protesters, killing two and injuring five.

The prison houses some 5,000 inmates, most of whom hold foreign passports, arrested after 2017 Battle of Raqqa and 2019 Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, both won by the Kudish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

While Kurdish forces spearheaded the US-backed battle against the Islamic State group in Syria, a year after declaring their victory they hold on to a total of 10,000 suspected IS fighters in 20 detention centres northeast of Syria, according to a US government report released in May.

The same report found that the suspected fighters posed a "high-impact risk of a mass breakout".

Read more: IS prison camps in Syria at risk of 'mass breakout', says Pentagon watchdog

Since the US withdrawal from northwestern Syria, and parallel Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, US forces have had little access to the facilities, the report added.

Western government remain reluctant to repatriate the suspected militants, ignoring calls from Kurdish authorities, who themselves must face the prospect of putting them on trial.

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