Local security forces affiliated with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Monday they had foiled a plot by a suspected Islamic State group’s cell to carry out an attack on a prison housed by IS fighters in northeastern Syria.
The SDF’s internal security forces said the operation was carried out early Monday in the eastern province of Deir al-Jour.
“After our forces received intelligence that a terrorist cell affiliated with (IS) in the Deir al-Zour region was planning to launch an attack on the Sina prison in Hasaka, our counter-terrorism units, with the support of the international coalition, Was able to identify the location of the cell and launch a quality campaign against it,” the SDF said in a statement.
In the encounter, one IS militant was killed, another was injured and four others were arrested, the statement said. According to the SDF, dozens of firearms, rockets and improvised explosive devices as well as ammunition were confiscated during the operation.
Without giving further details, the coalition also said that one terrorist was killed and three others were detained in a joint operation with the SDF in Deir al-Zour.
The SDF is a Kurdish-led military coalition that has been a major US partner in the fight against IS in Syria.
Concerns over temporary prisons
Since declaring IS military defeat in March 2019, the SDF has held more than 10,000 IS fighters, including about 2,000 foreign nationals. Some of them are being held in Hasaka’s Sina prison, where IS militants allegedly planned to break into the prison.
In recent years, IS prisoners have made several attempts to escape from SDF-held detention centers in northeastern Syria. However, none of these have been successful.
For years, both Kurdish and US military officials have raised concerns about security in dozens of SDF-run prisons holding IS fighters.
Many prisons have been converted into schools or hospitals and were not meant to hold prisoners for long, despite an influx of sometimes millions of dollars in aid and supplies from the US and other coalition partners.
Several officials have warned that the prisons cannot be held indefinitely, although prominent Kurdish officials see no end in sight.
“It’s actually very complex and difficult,” Elham Ahmed, the acting chairman of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of the SDF, told VOA in response to a question during a recent visit to Washington.
“I can’t give a timeline because I don’t see anything happening anytime soon,” Ahmed said. He said foreign fighters of IS remain the biggest obstacle. “Most countries refuse to take back their citizens. … But that’s going to take a long time, and it’s a huge burden.”
Speaking through a translator, Ahmed also warned that aid from the US and others is not enough to maintain security and “make everything completely fine”.
“I would say this as an immediate kind of aid … humanitarian issues that are related to food and water,” she said.
In its quarterly report released last week, the Pentagon inspector general said that while the global coalition “continues to provide material and support to the SDF to improve physical security, capacity and conditions at facilities, detainees continue to remain substandard and overcrowded”. . living conditions.”
The report said the anti-IS coalition said poor living conditions made the breakout more likely, noting that “an escape attempt was made by detainees during the quarter” from July 1 to September 30.
In August, the global coalition said the British government had invested $20 million to expand one of the IS detainees’ detention facilities in northeastern Syria.
Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.