HASAKAH, Syria — Late Thursday night, a car bomb targeted the perimeter of Sina’a Prison in Hasakah, North and East Syria, which holds an estimated 5,000 former Islamic State (ISIS) members. Simultaneously, fuel trucks of the nearby Sadcop Petroleum Company were set ablaze by ISIS operatives to create chaos. Inside the prison, inmates set fire to beds and other furniture. In the clashes between the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and ISIS fighters that followed the initial explosion, two ISF members were martyred, according to a statement made by spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Aram Hanna to Suroyo FM. There are also a number of casualties among the inmates, however no official count has been released.
Hanna declared that the SDF’s Anti-Terror Units (HAT) had intervened, tightening their control over the prison and its surroundings. As the HAT forces swept the areas, International Coalition forces assisted with helicopters that dropped flares to provide illumination. In the operations that followed the escape, the SDF arrested 89 ISIS members who tried to escape from prison, according to Hanna.
“ISIS sleeper cells had taken civilians in the Al-Zohour neighborhood adjacent to the prison, as human shields for them,” said Hanna, “The (Anti-Terror) Units, in cooperation with the Internal Security Forces (ISF), are cautious in dealing with the situation, and are doing their best to protect civilians first while implementing any military or security plan.”
The Syriac Military Council (Mawtbo Fulḥoyo Suryoyo, MFS) rushed to send military reinforcements to the vicinity of the prison to support the forces re-establishing control over the prison and its surroundings. The Director of the MFS Media Center, Basil Akkad, sustained an injury to his hand during the coverage of the events.
It is thus far unclear if any prisoners have escaped. While the SDF has said no detainees were able to escape, other initial reports claimed 15–20 ISIS detainees had managed to escape. As of Friday night, sporadic gunfire could still be heard around the prison.
Sina’a Prison is located on the outskirts of the Ghweran neighborhood at Hasakah’s southern entrance. The detention facility is one of the many in which the SDF holds thousands of ISIS detainees from over 50 countries.
With regards to the general situation of the many ISIS detainees held in North and East Syria, Sinam Mohamad, a Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) representative in Washington, D.C., tweeted late Thursday night that the prisons remain a threat. “A solution should be found to keep the region stable and secure,” she said.