At least 20 escape Syria prison holding IS inmates after quake

Prisoners mutinied in a northwestern Syria prison Monday following a deadly earthquake, with at least 20 escaping the jail holding mostly Islamic State group members, a source at the facility told AFP.

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According to the source, there are approximately 1,300 inmates at the military police prison in the town of Rajo near the Turkish border who are suspected to be IS fighters.

Kurdish-led forces’ fighters are also held in the prison.

An official at the pro-Turkish Rajo jail stated, “After the earthquake struck, Rajo was affected and inmates started to mutiny and took control of parts of the prison.”

“About 20 prisoners, believed to be IS militants, fled,”

The prison’s walls and doors cracked as a result of the 7.8-magnitude quake, which was followed by dozens of aftershocks in the area, the source said.

Although it confirmed that there was a mutiny, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor stated that it was unable to determine whether prisoners had escaped.

The government and rescue workers reported that the devastating earthquake that struck southwestern Turkey on Monday caused at least 1,444 deaths across Syria.

The White Helmets rescue group reports that at least 733 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured in rebel-held areas of the country’s northwest.

Following the December IS attack on a security complex in their former de facto Syrian capital of Raqa in an effort to free fellow jihadists from a prison there, the incident in Rajo occurs.

The unsuccessful assault resulted in the deaths of six members of the Kurdish-led security forces that control the area.

The brutal repression of peaceful protests in 2011 marked the beginning of the conflict in Syria, which grew to include foreign powers and global jihadists.

The conflict has resulted in the deaths of nearly half a million people, driving approximately half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes and forcing many of them to seek refuge in Turkey.

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