Islamic Militants Escape From Syria Prison After Earthquake
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
DAMASCUS (Worthy News) – At least 20 suspected militants of the Islamic State (IS) group remained missing Tuesday after they escaped from a prison in Syria damaged by the region’s worst earthquakes in recent history, officials said.
Known as the “Black Prison,” the military police prison was located in the town of Rajo, in the quake-hit northwestern Syria region near the Turkish border.
Controlled by pro-Turkish forces, it holds roughly 2,000 inmates, of which about 1,300 are suspected of being Islamic State members alongside fighters from Kurdish-lead forces.
The region was hit Monday by two major earthquakes measuring 7.8 and some 7.7 magnitudes, causing widespread devastation. After the first earthquake struck, prison buildings were damaged with walls and doors cracking, providing prisoners with an opportunity, authorities said.
“After the earthquake struck, Rajo was affected, and inmates started to mutiny and took control of parts of the prison,” an official at the prison told French News Agency AFP. “About 20 prisoners fled. [They are] believed to be [Islamic State] IS militants.”
The mutiny in Rajo comes after a deadly IS attack in December on a security complex in their former de facto Syrian capital of Raqa, which aimed to free fellow fighters from prison there.
Six members of the Kurdish-led security forces that control the area were killed in the foiled assault.
Yet the latest disappearance of IS militants likely added concerns among minority Christians targeted by IS fighters.
The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with the repression of peaceful protests and escalated into a war involving several countries and global Islamic fighters.
Nearly half a million people have been killed, and the conflict forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes, with millions seeking refuge in Turkey, according to official estimates.
As chaos reigned, IS entered the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.
IS became notorious for its brutalities, such as abductions, mass killings, and beheadings, including of Christians.
A U.S. led coalition vowed to destroy IS. While notable gains against IS were made , experts said international efforts to control this powerful terrorist group would likely continue for many years.
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