Late on January 20, ISIS cells in northeastern Syria launched a daring attack on a large prison run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the city of al-Hasakah.
The large prison, which is located in the district of Geweran in the southern part of the city, is known to be hosting around 5,000 Syrian and foreign members of ISIS.
ISIS terrorists blew up a booby-trapped car and a motorcycle near the prison’s main gate before clashing with the guards. During the attack, the terrorists also blew up three tankers and several storage tanks at a fuel disruption center located next to the prison in order to use the smoke as a cover from the US-led coalition warplanes.
The terrorists were apparently coordinating with their comrades in Geweran prison, who staged a mutiny the moment the attack began.
Many ISIS prisoners managed to escape during the clashes. However, the SDF’s special units, the YAT, and security forces, Asayish, were able to control the situation in the prison with support from US-led coalition fighter jets, attack helicopters and drones who carried out a number of pinpoint airstrikes.
After being pushed away from the prison, the remaining attackers and some of the escapees took refuge at the district of al-Zuhur. The terrorists took some civilians and at least one fighter of the SDF as hostages.
As of January 22 morning, SDF forces are still working to free the hostages and neutralize all the remaining terrorists in al-Zuhur. At least two of the escapees have been apprehended.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack on Geweran prison and the clashes that followed claimed the lives of 18 SDF fighters and six terrorists of ISIS. These claims are yet to be verified.
The SDF and the US-led coalition were well-aware of ISIS plans to attack Geweran Prison. In November and December, two booby-trapped vehicles, which were prepared for the attack, were destroyed. Despite these measures, the terrorist group’s cells were able to carry out the attack proving that the situation in northeastern Syria is not under the control of the SDF and the coalition.