July 5, 2020

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Reports: IS prisoners riot in jail in northeast Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — Imprisoned members of the Islamic State group rioted Monday in a jail controlled U.S.-backed fighters in Syria, demanding fair trials and visits their families.

The riots in the northeastern city of Hassakeh started with the prisoners trying to break metal doors inside the jail, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor.

It said that some detainees were wounded, without giving further details.

The North Press Agency, a media platform operating in the Kurdish-administered areas, said the Kurdish-led and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are sending reinforcements to the prison.

Kurdish authorities currently operate more than two dozen detention facilities scattered across northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 IS fighters. Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans.

Riots have broken out at least twice this year, in March and in early May.

The two-day riots in March were among the most serious uprisings the prisoners since IS was defeated a year ago, when the SDF seized control of the last sliver of land controlled the extremists in eastern Syria.

The Observatory reported that U.S. military helicopters flew over the prison on Monday night.

SDF officials have been saying for months that the international community and the U.S.-led coalition bear responsibility for finding solutions for IS detainees, and need to give more support for security and living conditions at the prisons.

IS has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks in recent months in Syria and Iraq, leaving scores of people dead in both countries. IS had declared a caliphate in June 2014 in large parts of Iraq and Syria, and was only defeated after a yearslong campaign an array of international and local forces.

The militant group appears to be expanding its operations as governments in both countries are focused on containing the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.

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