Syria: ISIS prisoners try to break out during coronavirus crisis

The SDF's region receives no support against the pandemic – and not enough support to secure thousands of the world’s most dangerous ISIS terrorists.

A black sign belonging to Islamic State militants is seen on the road in Al-Al-Fateha military airport south of Hawija, Iraq, October 2, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)
A black sign belonging to Islamic State militants is seen on the road in Al-Al-Fateha military airport south of Hawija, Iraq, October 2, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/STRINGER)
ISIS detainees in eastern Syria attempted to break out during the coronavirus pandemic. The prisoners disabled security cameras and then rioted at Geweran Prison in Hasakah. Four escaped but were caught by the region’s security forces Monday morning, according to the North Press Agency.
Eastern Syria is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group of Kurdish, Arab and other fighters. The SDF has been supported by the United States in the war against ISIS.
Eastern Syria and the SDF face challenges because of a variety of threats. Turkish-backed far-right militants have cut off water to more than 500,000 people in the region during the pandemic. Turkish-backed forces invaded eastern Syria last October when the US agreed to withdraw.
They took over an area, persecuting Christians and murdering civilians. They have been accused of looting and kidnapping. During the pandemic, they are causing problems for the already poor and overly stretched region.
In addition, the US is concerned about the Russian-backed Syrian regime’s attempts to seize oil near Deir Ezzor. On the first anniversary of the defeat of the last ISIS pocket near Baghouz, US Sen. Lindsey Graham phoned SDF General Mazloum Abdi to express concern about the Russians.
In addition, the SDF has to deal with thousands of ISIS detainees and their families. These fighters are mostly foreigners, including many Europeans. But European countries have stripped them of citizenship or refuse to take them back.
Those same countries have asked the SDF not to release them or hand them over to the regime or enable Iraq to prosecute them. So the SDF is saddled with the detainees.
The detainees are trying to break out of their crowded prisons. Most European countries don’t pay the bill for housing the prisoners, and there isn’t enough room for them. Securing them costs money, but the countries that fueled ISIS and allowed their citizens to join don’t want to shoulder the cost.

Instead, many European countries are withdrawing forces from the US-led coalition, claiming it is due to coronavirus threats. But the same virus threatens the SDF and the ISIS detainees. The international community has also restricted any aid to eastern Syria, meaning there are no test kits and almost no ventilators to care for virus patients.
The prison break may be the first of many. ISIS has in the past used periods of instability to launch prison-break campaigns. Even if it is not the first of many, the crowded prisons require more funding and support.
Unfortunately, the West’s perfidy is revealed during the COVID-19 crisis. The SDF was encouraged to fight ISIS and sacrifice lives, but its region receives no support against the pandemic and not enough to secure thousands of the world’s most dangerous ISIS terrorists.


Tags ISIS prison