More than four years after the world celebrated the end of the Islamic State (ISIS), a new documentary sheds light on the alarming threat of a resurgence of the Islamist group in Syria’s Kurdish-led northeast.
Rojava*: The Kurds, ISIS & Turkey, created by Gulan and Kawa Akrawi, provides a comprehensive account of the ongoing fight of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) against ISIS, as well as the dangers that the current Turkish government’s years-long military offensives against the Kurds in Syria pose, not only for the autonomous region that is home to more than four million people, but also for neighbouring countries and the West.
For the making of Rojava: The Kurds, ISIS & Turkey, which premieres at 22:15 CET today on the German free-to-air television network WDR, Gulan and Kawa Akrawi travelled to the democratic autonomous region in Syria, which is back in the international spotlight after the devastating earthquakes in February.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated the Baghuz region in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, a territorial last stand for ISIS, after a tough six-week battle with the assistance of international partners on 23 March 2019, which marks the Islamist fundamentalist group’s territorial and military defeat in Syria and Iraq.
However, today the AANES faces the challenge of dealing with 12,000 ISIS fighters detained in Kurdish-led prisons. Some 56,000 ISIS wives, children, widows, and orphans live in the infamous al-Hol Camp.
The US-led Global Coalition and SDF fighters regularly conduct joint operations against ISIS cells in North and East Syria. However, the Islamist group’s sleeper cells have recently been carrying out attacks targeting civilians as well as security forces in central, northeastern and eastern areas of the country.
The biggest ISIS action since their defeat in 2019 was inititated by a car bomb that targeted Sina’a Prison in al-Hasakah in January 2021, setting off a riot with the aim of freeing ISIS fighters imprisoned there.
Some 154 SDF fighters lost their lives while trying to regain control of the prison in heavy fighting that lasted over a week. In addition 346 ISIS members were killed and 1,100 were re-arrested. A total of 400 prisoners managed to escape.
The SDF warned in a statement released on the fourth anniversary of ISIS’s territorial and military defeat that ISIS aims to regain control over certain territories and that the regions under the control of Turkish forces and their allied Syrian rebel groups have become safe havens for ISIS cells .
Click here to watch the documentary.
* Rojava – the Kurdish-majority areas in northeast Syria