top of page


Hae Lim Park, William Adams, Madeline Thompson, Martina Pagani

Jessica Wilson, Editor; Elena Alice Rossetti, Alya Fathia Fitri, Senior Editor

March 29, 2024

Security Patrol[1]

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to Syrian local authorities and residents following the escape of 12 ISIS members and commanders from a prison in Afrin.[2] On Friday, 29 March, security forces arrested two of the prisoners shortly after their escape, but 10 prisoners remain missing. A large number of security forces surround the entrances of Raju district located near the Syria-Turkey border.[3] The escaped ISIS members and commanders will likely attempt to hide among the local population near Afrin and the Syria-Turkey border, likely avoiding capture and posing threats to civilians.

CTG is on HIGH alert for the unknown location of 10 ISIS prisoners who escaped in the Bolbol district, Afrin, Syria. The prison is located near the Syria-Turkey border with a large number of security forces stationed near the entrance to Raju district. The escaped prisoners will VERY LIKELY use the local population to hide in plain sight until they make it to safety. The local authorities will VERY LIKELY implement tighter security restrictions until security forces track down the location of the escaped prisoners. Any security forces or individuals’ attempts to apprehend the escaped prisoners will ALMOST CERTAINLY lead to a violent confrontation.


12 ISIS members and commanders escaped from prison in the Olive Branch area in Afrin, Syria. Security forces arrested two of the prisoners shortly after they allegedly discovered the possible complicity of members and commanders of the military police, but ten prisoners are still missing. The Turkish-backed military police supervise the prison and the Olive Branch area with a heavy presence of members and commanders of the military police. The areas known as Olive Branch, Euphrates Shield, and Peace Spring host ISIS members and commanders, making them  ISIS safe zones.  


ISIS members will very likely travel to the Olive Branch area to avoid recapture and to reunite with other ISIS members. ISIS members in the area will likely regroup with escaped ISIS members and commanders, likely planning another escape for the two recaptured ISIS members. There is a roughly even chance ISIS will launch attacks on the Afrin prison using the knowledge of the escapists, likely making the attacks more successful and deadly.

ISIS members likely conducted the escape operation at a prison in Bulbul because of the close proximity of the town to the Turkish border. Prisoners likely capitalized upon refugee flows to facilitate their escape based on ISIS’s previous use of Turkey as a transition hub. Communities residing along the Turkish border will very likely experience tighter border restrictions and lockdowns. Security forces will very likely conduct ground searches of nearby villages and residences to locate missing prisoners. Civilians and residents will likely experience extreme uneasiness as the searches likely disrupt their homes. There is a roughly even chance that ISIS members will exploit Syrian refugees near the Turkish border by recruiting them to increase their affiliates.


  • CTG recommends that security forces at the Syria-Turkey border and the Afrin prison in Syria implement tighter restrictions to eliminate unnecessary movement by travelers on holiday or going to visit relatives.

  • Officials at the Afrin prison should prepare for a potential attack to free the two recaptured ISIS members. All prisons in the area should undergo threat assessments to identify and address any security vulnerabilities.

  • CTG recommends that all civilians residing near Afrin, Syria, and the Syria-Turkey border stay vigilant of their surroundings and take extra precautions at their residences. Residents should shelter in place, locking their doors and windows to avoid break-ins. Residents should minimize being outside at night and travel in groups. Civilians should not attempt to approach any suspicious individuals and should report it to law enforcement.

CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH due to the risk of violence posed by the escaped prisoners. The success of the escape operation will very likely boost the morale of the organization and its supporters, likely encouraging members to engage in violent action against security forces who aim to detain the escaped prisoners. The escaped prisoners will very likely pose a more significant risk of violence to the communities that have been previously exploited by ISIS to strategically place fighters, limiting the effectiveness of the security force’s counter efforts. Violence will likely occur between the escaped prisoners and security forces when engaged. Should authorities recapture escaped prisoners, ISIS will likely conduct retaliatory attacks against prison authorities.

Analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY of violent confrontations in Afrin and nearby areas.  There will LIKELY be clashes between the escaped prisoners and security forces, and ISIS cells will LIKELY plan future attacks on Syrian prisons to release captured ISIS members.  Local authorities will VERY LIKELY warn citizens to avoid any unnecessary travel. Security forces will ALMOST CERTAINLY increase foot patrols in the area around the prison and near the Syrian-Turkey border.


[1] Patrol Posture, by Marine Corps Cpl. Joseph Helms, licensed under public domain (The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.)

[2] ​​Members and commanders of Turkish-backed military police complicit | 12 ISIS prisoners escape from prison in Afrin, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, March 2024,

[3] Ibid


bottom of page