On the evening of the 20th January 2022, hundreds of ISIS fighters attacked the Sina’a prison detention centre in Haseke, exploding a number of devices in vehicles near the prison, beginning a 6-day violent attempt to break out around four thousand ISIS prisoners being held there.
These prisoners’ brutal and despicable crimes include beheadings, mass murder, live burials, extrajudicial killings, assassinations, rape, throwing people from high buildings and cliffs, burning people alive in oil pits, and many other evil methods of killing and torture dreamt up by warped minds.
They enslaved thousands of Ezidi women for sexual gratification and genocidal crimes against the Ezidi community.
For the last 6 days and nights, ISIS have been battling against Syrian Democratic Forces in an armed attempt to help these men escape so they may revive and strengthen the ISIS project in their eyes.
For the last 6 days, the Rojava Information Centre in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria have been working day and night to provide facts, figures, verification, and historical context to the Syrian Defence Forces’ military fight against the ISIS fighters for the international world media and news agencies. They have been covering the story on a daily basis.
Clara Moore, one of the hard-working staff members of the Rojava Information Centre, spoke to Medya News just one hour after the SDF spokesperson Ferhad Shami had announced on Twitter that the operation to retake the prison “has culminated with our entire control of the al-Sina’a prison in al-Hasaka and the surrendering of all Daesh (ISIS) terrorists.”
I asked Clara Moore to introduce herself, the Rojava Information Centre and about how she and the Rojava Information Centre had coped during the last week. I asked her about possible warnings of these attacks, where they had came from, with whose support, how the international media had reported it and what were the lessons and messages now that the immediate threat had been quashed.
Clara gave information about the ISIS sleeper cells that had been identified in the months preceding the attacks and how the SDF and the international Coalition had intelligence of such threats. She said they believed that the plans had began as far back as six months ago when there was a sudden drop in ISIS activity. Far from the drop being seen in a positive light it was seen by coalition and SDF intelligence agencies as a dangerous sign that plans were being made.
An arrest of a sleeper cell in December, Clara said, had confirmed that plans were being made and that many ISIS militants were being transferred from the areas under Turkish control and occupation such as Serekaniye and Gire Spi and that ISIS had begun military operations against Iranian controlled militias and Syrian regime forces in what was probable preparation for the attack in Haseke. Clara said that although Turkey was a NATO member it’s important to pay attention to their “extreme tolerance” of ISIS, both at home, and in the occupied-Syrian territories where Turkish authorities appointed a former ISIS operative to be the Mayor of Serekaniye.
Clara then detailed the events from the evening of the ISIS onslaught against the Sina’a prison in Haseka through the week when ISIS militants broke into the prison and fought inside and outside the jail to free the prison inmates. Inmates rioted and burnt furnishings and buildings while some broke into arms depots to access weapons.
ISIS fighters also used the local civilian population as ‘human shields’ as well as hundreds of boys in the same prison complex. These boys are the sons of the ISIS fighters imprisoned after the defeat of ISIS in Baghouz and are known as the ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’. It was mainly because of these minors and civilian hostages that the fight to retake the prison took so long.
The SDF and Coalition were mindful not to bring any harm to the civilians or minors, and so the fighting was slow and purposeful while surrounding the whole area affected to prevent any escape.
Clara then explained that the international media did, on the whole, cover the story pretty well. Most international news agencies did write one or two reports on the prison attacks. Still, she would have liked to see more analysis rather than ‘breaking news’ type stories, such as recognising that ISIS is still a problem in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and that AANES and the SDF need international support. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of ISIS prisoners have been released into AANES territory, and AANES needs support to counter this threat. It also needs help in the rehabilitation and construction of proper purpose-built prison facilities. This is a world problem, she says, and the AANES are trying to solve all of these issues with very little in the way of resources.
Clara pointed to the issue of foreign fighters of ISIS and how there had been renewed discussion of how the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria needed other countries in the world to take responsibility for their nationals who came to Syria and joined ISIS.
There are foreign fighters of ISIS who were detained and jailed in NE Syria from 57 different countries as identified by Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism in countries that include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Indonesia, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Maldives, North Macedonia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, State of Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Senegal, Somalia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, and Yemen.
So this is one aspect, the foreign fighters. But also and equally important, she said, is from the Syrian angle; rehabilitation is needed for Syrian nationals too.
Clara lastly urged people to go to their website at rojavainfomationcenter.com to read some of the research and reports written by the teams on the situation in AANES.
The Rojava Information Centre have also put together a timeline and analysis of the Haseke prison attack called The Battle of Heseke 2022.