Hundreds of Children Still Held at NE Syria Prison

Kurds say child prisoners 'in a safe place'

Last month, ISIS forces attacked the Ghawayran prison in NE Syria, sparking over a week of fighting with the Kurdish SDF who run it. During the fighting, one of the recurring stories was children at risk from the fighting, with the implication that they were taken as human shields by ISIS.

The fight is over, but the SDF is confirming that “hundreds” of children are still being held within the prison complex. They declined to offer details, but said the children are being held “in a safe place.”

The big issue is that they’re being held, broadly without charges, and with little to no oversight. During the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate, the SDF captured thousands of ISIS suspects, and put them in these prisons, with an eye toward eventually returning them to their nations of origin. Many countries didn’t want them back though.

With hardened ISIS fighters, this became an effective life sentence. More disturbing, the children caught who had any indoctrination from ISIS are facing the exact same thing, an open-ended, extra-judicial sentence.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.