12,000 detainees of 50 nationalities are held in 8 prisons… What is happening in Ghweran prison in Hasaka? Why is the Islamic State attacking him?

Northern Syria- For the fourth consecutive day, violent clashes continue between the Syrian Democratic Forces and members of the Islamic State in the vicinity of Al-Sina’a Prison (Ghweran) in the city of Al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria, in an attempt to release prisoners from the organization’s members.

Despite the talk of the SDF about tightening its grip on the prison and its almost complete control, and ending the attack, ISIS says that it captured and killed dozens of SDF fighters, and continues to fight to the end.

In this report, Al Jazeera Net attempts to shed light on this prison in Al-Hasakah and the nature of its inmates, their description and numbers. It also presents different scenarios about the attack carried out by ISIS elements, in addition to information about the prisons of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the number of detainees there.

Where is the industry prison (Gweran) located? What are the military powers that run it?

The prison is located in the Ghweran neighborhood (south of the city of Hasaka in northeastern Syria). It is one of the largest prisons in the city. It is run by the Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces, which controls large parts of northeastern Syria.

The prison is called “the industry”, because the prison was a school for industrial students before the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2017 turned it into a prison for ISIS members after battles that ended the organization’s control of large parts of northeastern Syria.

Prisoners carry out from time to time insurrections inside the prison, and attempts to escape from it, the last of which was in mid-August 2021, when prisoners made a mass escape attempt by digging tunnels, but the prison administration thwarted the attempt.

How many detainees are in prison? And what are their nationalities?

The number of detainees in Ghweran prison is estimated at 5,000 prisoners; Among the elements and leaders of ISIS, most of whom are of Arab and foreign nationalities, were arrested by the Syrian Democratic Forces during the battles with the organization in northeastern Syria with the support of the International Coalition forces in previous years.

Informed sources confirm to Al-Jazeera Net from Al-Hasakah that most of the prisoners are prominent leaders of the organization who held positions of an administrative or military nature during the organization’s control of areas in Syria, and who had combat and scientific experience.

Ghweran Prison is one of the largest prisons run by the Syrian Democratic Forces and holds prominent leaders of the Islamic State
(communication Web-sites)

How was the attack on the prison and the breach of security in Al-Hasakah?

Mystery still surrounds the way the organization’s members infiltrated Al-Hasakah and prepared for the attack, which began with the detonation of two booby-trapped vehicles in the vicinity of the prison, amid talk of the escape of hundreds of detainees, according to the account of the ISIS-affiliated Amaq Agency.

Meanwhile, the “Furat Post” network, which specializes in northeastern Syria news, said that most of the attackers came from the countryside of Deir ez-Zor and the city of Al-Shaddadi in the southern countryside of Hasaka, a few days before the start of the attack, and were stationed in several houses in the Ghweran neighborhood.

According to the “Euphrates Post”, cells of the organization had planned this operation several months ago, after it was recently able to recruit new numbers of members to its ranks in the countryside of Deir ez-Zor, in preparation for the last operation, which is to free prisoners of the organization members from prison.

On the other hand, fingers of the Syrian Democratic Forces are accused of facilitating the entry of the attackers and carrying quantities of weapons into the city of Hasaka, without confirmation from reliable sources.

What other prisons contain ISIS elements in Syria?

In addition to Ghweran prison, the Syrian Democratic Forces operate more than 8 prisons in their areas of control in northeastern Syria, and most of the detainees there are from ISIS elements. The prisons are located in the governorates of Al-Hasakah, Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, which are:

  • Kamba Bulgarian Prison:
    It is located in the city of Al-Shaddadi in the Hasaka countryside, and includes thousands of ISIS fighters, and is under heavy security, and a US military base is located near it.
  • Shaddadiya Prison:
    It is also located in al-Shaddadi, and hundreds of members of the organization are detained there.
  • Derek Prison:
    It is also located in the countryside of al-Hasakah, specifically in the town of al-Malikiyah (Derik) and bears the name of the village itself, and the number of its inmates is estimated at hundreds of members of the organization.
  • Nafker Prison:
    It is also located in the countryside of Al-Hasakah, where hundreds of ISIS fighters are located.
  • Rmelan Prison:
    It is located in the city of Qamishli, and hundreds of ISIS fighters are also located there.
  • Kasra prison:
    It is located in Deir ez-Zor, and sources indicate that most of its inmates are ISIS leaders.
  • Raqqa Central Prison:
    Al-Raqqa Central Prison in Raqqa governorate contains hundreds of members of the organization, as the city was its capital in Syria, prior to the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces with the support of the international coalition forces in 2017.

Human Rights Watch says that the Syrian Democratic Forces are holding about 12,000 men and boys suspected of belonging to the Islamic State, and between 2 and 4,000 foreigners from about 50 countries.

The organization said the prisoners were being held “in overcrowded prisons and in often inhumane conditions”.

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