As the clashes in Haseke, northeast Syria, between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Islamic State members entered its fifth day after an attempt by ISIS to free thousands of fighters from a detention centre, an analysis by journalist Ahmet Birsin on the biggest ISIS attack since its military defeat in 2019 has been published by Hawar News Agency on Tuesday.
On the evening of January 20th there was an organised and planned attack on the Sina’a Prison in Haseke by gangs of the Islamic State.
It would be wise to think on such an attack from various perspectives. The authorities of North and East Syria do not assess this attack simply as an attack on the Sina’a Prison neither, but see it as part of a bigger plan (…) That’s why they responded to the attack with a comprehensive counter-operation. This assessment is mainly due to the fact that ISIS currently does not have the capabilities to organise such an attack by itself. Gathering so many militants from different regions and bringing them at the borders of North and East Syria is possible only with the help of a capable intelligence force. Considering the information obtained from detained ISIS members, it is clear that most of them came into the region from Serekaniye and Gire Spi, which are currently both controlled by Turkey, and a smaller part of them came from the Iraqi border.
These gangs also include members of different nationalities. Thus, people of North and East Syria are confronted with an international criminal consortium.
It is common knowledge that ISIS attacks have recently increased in Iraq. There has been widespread press coverage of the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, an old intelligence officer himself, cooperating with Turkey in order to stay in power. Especially the attacks on the Shengal [Sinjar] region in Iraq are clear indicators of this. The Syrian government’s and intelligence agency’s recent cooperation efforts with the Turkish intelligence are remarkable, as is the Syrian government’s smearing campaign against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with an effort to turn the Arabs living in the region against the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria [AANES] by spreading rumours of ‘war crimes’ and secretly having meetings with feudal tribe leaders, ultimately supporting ISIS. Therefore, despite the disagreements and conflicts between the Turkish and the Syrian sides, they have found common grounds against the struggle of the people of North and East Syria. That’s why the attack on the Sina’a Prison may correctly be assessed as a plot, in which international and domestic forces collaborated, using ISIS for their own self interests.
If we look closer, right after the attack on the Sina’a Prison, we were informed about Turkish forces carrying attacks in the same region. The focus of the attacks was to take control of the M4 Highway. The biggest attacks occured in that area. Likewise, they also targeted a military vehicle from Tall Tamr on its way to suport the operation against the prison attack. Then the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ) in Sinjar was targeted in drone attacks the same day. If the ISIS groups weren’t responded to in such a short time, a similar attack would have been possible at the al Hol Camp. Distracting the Syrian Democratic Forces with the prison attack and taking control of the M4 Highway was a part of their plot.
But the Syrian Democratic Forces fought on different fronts at once and did not let this happen.
The second part of Turkey’s plot was to revive ISIS forces that has been dissolving since the Raqqa defeat. Because the end of ISIS means losing a very important asset for Turkey. Turkey had occupied a considerable part of the Syrian land using ISIS. They had used ISIS to attack forces that are in conflict with their interests in Europe and the Middle East. Turkey needs ISIS more than ever now.
The United States and the international coalition did not give a green light for the occupation of cities like Kobane, Manbij, Tall Tamr, nor allowed attacks except for the ones by drones. It is also not in Russia’s interest to let these happen. In a response to this, Turkey ended the ISIS attacks against the Syrian state and prioritised the attacks against North and East Syria. Therefore, the attack on the Sina’a Prison is a way of giving hope to the imprisoned ISIS emirates. ISIS has been defeated, their leader died, but everyone knows that the new ISIS leader is in Turkey. That’s the reason why ISIS is cooperating with Turkey more than ever. Most of the ISIS emirates are in Gire Spi, Serekaniye and Idlib regions. Everyone knows that most of the emirates who were shot or captured were operating in these regions. But unfortunately, Russia and the US, despite being aware of all these, do nothing to confront this situation in order not to have a conflict with Turkey.