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For the last few days, one of the most seri­ous reap­pear­ances of ISIS ter­ror­ism has been occur­ring in Roja­va in Hasakah (North­east­ern Syria).

Joint ISIS ‘sleep­er cells’ attacked the prison where sev­er­al thou­sand ex-com­bat­ants of the Islam­ic State are detained, in order to facil­i­tate a con­cert­ed escape.

Small­er attacks of this type occurred in the past months against the large Al Hol camp, also in the North East, where some 60 000 peo­ple — among them, 27 000 chil­dren — are held since the mil­i­tary defeat of the Islam­ic State. On each of these occa­sions, female ex-com­bat­ants of ISIS man­aged to escape in small num­bers to join sleep­er cells in the  region, or even in zones under Syr­i­an or Turk­ish con­trol since the so-called Astana process agree­ments. The camp itself has turned into a cesspool con­trolled by recon­sti­tut­ed gangs.

The Sina’a prison in Hasakah con­tains over 4 500 detainees from close to 50 dif­fer­ent nation­al­i­ties, mer­ce­nar­ies who came to fight by the side of ISIS and whose coun­tries of ori­gin still refuse to take on respon­si­bil­i­ty for repa­tri­a­tion and judgment.

As was the case in ex-Yugoslavia, insti­tu­tions in Roja­va once request­ed the con­sti­tu­tion of an ad hoc tri­bunal to car­ry out the judg­ment on the main detainees respon­si­ble for crimes com­mit­ted by the Islam­ic State, thus pro­vid­ing for all inves­ti­ga­tions on war crimes and the incrim­i­na­tion of the guilty. It was seen as a way to respond to the refusal by the States who con­sid­er that these crimes only con­cern the ter­ri­to­ries on which they were com­mit­ted, Syr­ia and Irak.

The same ques­tion applies con­cern­ing the thou­sands of chil­dren wal­low­ing in the camps, orphans or under the pseu­do-respon­si­bil­i­ty of their moth­ers who are often ex-com­bat­ants. Repa­tri­a­tions take place at a snail’s pace, leav­ing Roja­va with the heavy admin­is­tra­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty of pro­vid­ing secu­ri­ty in the camps where gangs are reor­gan­is­ing. For West­ern­ers, the blind­fold remains firm­ly in place con­cern­ing the delayed-action ter­ror­ist bomb of absolute dis­tress of chil­dren beset by dai­ly violence.

Voic­es were even raised in Europe accus­ing the author­i­ties main­tain­ing secu­ri­ty, guardian­ship and respon­si­bil­i­ty for the camps and pris­ons, of facil­i­tat­ing escapes, against finances, push­ing back on Roja­va all the the prob­lems occur­ring with the recon­sti­tu­tion of Isis fight­er cells on Syr­i­an ter­ri­to­ry. Every excuse has been used to jus­ti­fy the inac­tion of “West­ern pow­ers” con­cern­ing judg­ments and repa­tri­a­tions of Jihadists and their fam­i­lies, after the Kur­dish forces in par­tic­u­lar were aban­doned to their fate, fol­low­ing the defeat of the Islam­ic State.

To this day, the Astana Process has estab­lished Syr­i­an, Russ­ian and Turk­ish con­trol over dif­fer­ent fron­tier zones — main­ly with Turkey — as well as on com­mu­ni­ca­tion hubs and main roads, but it has left Rojava’s autonomous admin­is­tra­tion with the heavy task of con­tain­ing ex-com­bat­ant pris­on­ers while tight­en­ing the lim­its of the autonomous ter­ri­to­ry and not return­ing to it oth­er regions such as that of Afrin, left to the hands of gangs allied with the Turk­ish regime.

Thus, Roja­va and all of North­ern Syr­ia are direct­ly under threat from Turkey who does not spare drone bomb­ing strikes against var­i­ous local­i­ties, such as Kobanê recent­ly, caus­ing civil­ian deaths every time, many of them chil­dren. The aim being to desta­bilise the pop­u­la­tions, accused by the Turk­ish regime of sol­i­dar­i­ty with the PYD, the Turk­ish regime’s pet hatred  which it calls ‘PKK terrorism”.

So there should be no sur­prise in the fact that drone strikes by Turk­ish forces have inten­si­fied in the four days since the fight­ing began against the ISIS attack­ers. Nor should we be sur­prised to learn that some of the escaped Jihadists have reached the zones con­trolled by Turkey’s allies.

To this day, the tem­po­rary toll con­sists of 22 dead among the FDS forces, 17 wound­ed, over and above the guards assas­si­nat­ed by the escapees. Fight­ing was ongo­ing on Sun­day around the prison and in neigh­bour­ing areas, with final fig­ures not yet estab­lished. Some unver­i­fied infor­ma­tion con­cerns the death of a jour­nal­ist. As for the hemor­rage of flee­ing Jihadists, it was force­ful­ly stopped very quick­ly, if one judges by the images shared by var­i­ous net­works, but some of them had man­aged to grab weapons and the fight­ing was very vio­lent. There is talk of over 175 dead on the ISIS side.


Kur­dish woman patrolling the streets to insure secu­ri­ty in the neigh­bor­hood. Pho­to by @Rudy_tahlo

The lim­it­ed Amer­i­can forces still on the ground secured sev­er­al points around Hasakah and were seen in the town itself. Infor­ma­tion claim­ing that Amer­i­can forces would have autho­rised and facil­i­tat­ed the bomb­ing of the rest of the ISIS besieged also requires ver­i­fi­ca­tion and confirmation.

Out­side of the facts, always dif­fi­cult to ver­i­fy despite mul­ti­ple sources of infor­ma­tion that are often con­tra­dic­to­ry, there remains the evi­dence that this is one of the biggest attempts at desta­bil­is­ing Roja­va, by lean­ing on a weak spot, which is entire­ly the respon­si­bil­i­ty, once again, of the West­ern States that aban­doned the mat­ter of the Islam­ic State’s ex-com­bat­ants, just as that of pro­vid­ing sup­port against the unceas­ing attacks from Turkey. 

A cur­few has been imposed by the Roja­va forces. In Hasakah, pho­tos pub­lished on Sun­day night Jan­u­ary 23rd, showed  Kur­dish civil­ian women, patrolling the neigh­bour­hoods, weapons in hand, to insure col­lec­tive security.

While the Kurds were fight­ing against ISIS ter­ror­ism, many in Europe showed their inter­est, even their sup­port. This sup­port for Roja­va has seen a thin­ning of its ranks over the years. Hol­ly­wood-type movies on Kur­dish women fight­ers have been stashed away   in the cupboards.

Only pro­gres­sist forces in Europe main­tain their sol­i­dar­i­ty and among them, those who rec­og­nize in Roja­va a lib­er­tar­i­an alter­na­tive for eco-social­ism and feminism.

May these forces bring back to the fore­front the sol­i­dar­i­ty Roja­va needs more than ever.

26-01-2022 / Update — The Peo­ples’ Ham­mer Oper­a­tion has cul­mi­nat­ed with our entire con­trol of the al-Sina’a prison in al-Hasa­ka and the sur­ren­der­ing of all Daesh terrorists.

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Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…