SDF to release 700 prisoners with links to IS in Syria: report

SDF to release 700 prisoners with links to IS in Syria: report
Sources close to the SDF stressed detainees will only be released if they have not been proven to have committed any crimes against civilians.
2 min read
27 November, 2021
A list of names of around 700 detainees to be released has been published by sources close to the Kurdish-led SDF [Getty]

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are preparing to release hundreds of detainees accused of belonging to the Islamic State extremist group (IS), The New Arab's Arabic language sister publication Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported on Friday.

The detainees who will reportedly be released have not been proven to be involved in criminal activity against civilians, according to sources close to the SDF.

The sources published lists of names of around 700 prisoners- who had been detained by the SDF between 2014 and 2021 - who will be released following mediation by tribal leaders in northeastern Syria.

The sources said that prisoners proven to have committed crimes would not be released without being put on trial.

The SDF, who control most of northeastern Syria, recently denied claims made by The Guardian that it has become "common knowledge" that men with links to IS can buy their release from prison.

"Those involved in committing crimes from all nationalities are put on trial and cannot be released in exchange for bail without being held to account. This also applies to Syrians. Foreigners will be deported to their countries of origin either before the trials or after," a source close to the SDF told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

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The prisoners reportedly due to be released have been held in SDF prisons across northern and northeastern Syria including in the towns of Raqqa, Ghuyran, Tabqa, Hasaka, and Al-Kasra.

The SDF hit back on Monday at The Guardian's claims as they stated the newspaper had "fallen into the trap of forgery", and relied on "false testimonies".

However, two men with alleged links to IS told The Guardian they were able to pay $8,000 plus bribes to the SDF as part of a "reconciliation" scheme to leave prison.

There are no accurate figures for the number of IS in SDF prisons, but the number is estimated at 12,000, including about 4,000 Syrians, 4,000 Iraqis and 3,000 others from 54 countries.