The Jerkin prison and al Hol camp in the northeastern Syrian province of Hasakah were targeted by Turkish airstrikes on Wednesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a report.
Al Hol is home to thousands, including ISIS fighters, their families, and child soldier recruits known as the Cubs of the Caliphate. The SDF believes that Turkish drones deliberately targeted security guards in the prison and camp to allow the jihadists to flee.
The camp has seen increased activity by ISIS families in the wake of Turkey’s Operation Claw-Sword, which launched on 19 November. The next day, the families gathered en masse to threaten non-ISIS families and security guards at the camp.
ISIS families also coordinated their efforts to wreak havoc in the camp with the airstrikes. In the chaos that ensued, 20 women escaped. They were all arrested in later operations by the SDF, the group said.
Eight security guards lost their lives in the air strikes while many others were injured.
Al Hol camp is located in the town of al Khatuniya, southeast of Hassakah in northeastern Syria, some 12 km from the Iraqi-Syrian border and 70 km from the area under Turkey’s control. It houses more than 53,000 people, including 25,000 Iraqi refugees, 20,000 Syrian families, and 8,000 foreign families.
SDF warned that Turkey had been targeting the camps and prisons that hold thousands of ISIS fighters and their families to set them free and revive the group again.
A member of the Cubs of the Caliphate was arrested and confessed to communicating with a smuggling network in Idlib, controlled by Turkey-backed groups. The man was planning to smuggle ISIS families from al Hol to Hassakah city, then to the Ras al Ayn (Serê Kaniyê) region, also under Turkish control.
Earlier in September, Kurdish Internal Security Forces in North and East Syria launched a three-week operation against ISIS cells in al Hol, arresting 226 people, including 36 women, over terrorism-related charges.