Syria Prison Raid Shows ISIS Is Growing Stronger

'Defeated' in 2019, ISIS is making a comeback

The SDF declared Thursday’s ISIS prison raid foiled in short order, but this appears to have been overly optimistic. Five days of fighting have raged since then, with the SDF continuing to insist the matter is almost resolved.

One thing that is clear though is that ISIS in Syria is a lot stronger than anyone gives them credit for anymore. The ISIS Caliphate was defeated in 2019, with many detainees sent to prisons.

Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters were never caught though, and fled into the deserts around Deir Ezzor Province. They were spread apart enough so as to make chasing them impractical, and only rarely would any forces leave the desert to carry out attacks.

This made ISIS no more than a minor threat, capable of the occasional ambush, but not able to take and hold any populated area. That may need to be reconsidered after this prison raid.

In many ways, what went wrong probably was informed by the ISIS of the past couple of years. When the first push at the prison failed, ISIS forces scrambled and the SDF appeared to assume they’d won, and that the ISIS force would disappear into the countryside like they always do. Instead, the forces stayed in the city of Hasakeh and pressed the prison once more.

ISIS is a bit more resilient than they’d been, and that could be a big problem, as they still have a lot of fighters to draw upon in trying to recover a position within Syria.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of