A Syrian Democratic Forces photo claiming to show Islamic State members captured after an assault on Gweiran Prison in northeast Syria, January 21, 2022


After six days of fighting, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have regained control of a prison in northeast Syria from the Islamic State.

SDF spokesman Aram Hanna said ISIS fighters had finally given up after holing up in part of the Gweiran complex: “The future was clear to them if they didn’t surrender. The area was completely besieged and completely under the control of our forces. They had no other option.”

Kurdish officials said they were still trying to determine casualties. An SDF spokesman has said that at least 30 SDF troops and more than 100 ISIS fighters were slain.

It is unknown if any of an estimated 850 juveniles in detention were killed.

Hanna did not say how many escaped ISIS detainees remained at large, or how many SDF troops were still held captive by the faction.


As fighting between the Islamic State and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces continues, UN officials say about 45,000 people have been forced from their homes near the Gweiran Prison in Hasakah Province in northeast Syria.

In their statement, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Imran Riza, and the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, Muhannad Hadi, said most of the displaced have sought safety with family and friends; however, about 500 people are in two temporary shelters.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said late Sunday that the evacuation of almost 850 juveniles in the prison is essential as they are at “immediate risk”.

The SDF claimed that they retook part of the prison on Monday, with the surrender of at least 300 ISIS fighters. They said other fighters are in other buildings in the complex.

Kurdish officials said at least 180 detainees and ISIS fighters and 27 SDF personnel have been killed since the initial Islamic State attack last Thursday.

ISIS has not mentioned any casualties among its fighters, while claiming the killing, injuring, and capture of SDF troops.


Clashes between the Islamic State and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces continue, more than 60 hours after ISIS attacked Gweiran Prison in northeast Syria and freed hundreds of its members.

The Islamic State released a video claiming to be of scores of captured SDF troops. Many appeared to be beaten.

The SDF acknowledged that 17 of its soldiers had been slain.

The Pentagon acknowledged US airstrikes to help the Kurdish forces regain control of the prison and the nearby neighborhoods. Arab tribal figures said American troops had taken up positions.

Arab tribes and relatives claim that many detainees are held because they resisted forced conscription, with juveniles among those imprisoned. The SDF denies the accuastion.

Human Rights Watch says about 12,000 men and juveniles suspected of Islamic State affiliation, including 2,000 to 4,000 foreigners from almost 50 countries, are being held by the SDF in overcrowded and inhumane conditions.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, JAN 22: The Islamic State has attacked a prison in Kurdish-held northeast Syria, reportedly killing at least 23 personnel of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and freeing hundreds of ISIS members.

Thursday’s assault was on the Gweiran Prison in Hasakah Province, involving about 80 fighters and a vehicle-borne suicide bomb. SDF spokesman Farhad Shami said the facility held about 5,000 members, including commmanders and some of ISIS’s most dangerous personnel.

The attack began about 7 p.m. with a large explosion, followed by two more blasts. Detainees rioted and tried to break out as the car bomb was detonated.

On Friday, ISIS still held a quarter of the facility and clashes continued with the SDF.

The SDF’s Shami claimed 104 detainees had been recaptured, but he said the number who succeeded in escaping is unknown.

The spokesman added that seven Kurdish fighters and at least 28 ISIS attackers were killed in the battle.

Islamic State cells have continued to carry out attacks since ISIS was removed from its last village, in Baghouz in eastern Syria on the Iraq border, in March 2019. Scores of Assad regime troops have been explosion in shootings and explosions in the Badia desert region on the road from Deir ez-Zor to Palmyra.

Islamic State Kills 5 Assad Troops, Wounds 20 in Eastern Syria

But Thursday’s raid is the largest operation since the fall of Baghouz. At almost the same time, ISIS struck a military base in neighboring Iraq, killing 11 soldiers.

As some Islamic State fighters moved through Gweiran Prison, others took positions in homes around the facility as the SDF, backed by US Apache helicopters, tried to regain control.

“IS fighters killed four of our neighbours,” said Umm Ibrahim, who escaped her neighbourhood. “We left because of the clashes. We feared for our children.”

The Islamic State’s revival in Iraq began in 2020 with attacks on prisons to free detainees, using the assaults as propaganda victories to build support. ISIS moved into Syria in 2013 and carried out a lightning strike across Iraq the next year.

The group declared a “caliphate” in July 2014 and, at its height, held about a third of both Syria and Iraq. It was pushed back over the next five years, losing its territory in Syria in the face of separate US-backed SDF and Russian-enabled Assad regime offensives.