A Syrian man released this week from the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration prisons in northeast Syria admitted that ISIS forced him to collaborate with the organization, saying he was unable to escape from areas controlled by the group.
“I was placed in prison for being an ISIS fighter. However, I was a civilian employee working with the organization. They forced us to leave with their fighters every time they lost new territory, the last time in the Baghouz area,” Khodr, 23, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.
After spending 19 months in prison, the young Syrian who is from the village of Shaddadi, south of Hassakah, was released as part of an amnesty deal issued by the Autonomous Administration last Saturday for a number of ISIS militants from prisons in northern Syria.
“ISIS used us as human shields and they prevented us from escaping,” Khodr, 23, said.
Amid tight security measures, hundreds of prisoners were seen Friday leaving the Sanaah Prison in the city of Hassakah. Some were carrying small handbags and others were walking on crutches.
Family members waited to welcome them.
Hussein, from the town of Bassira in the countryside of eastern Deir Ezzor, was waiting with the crowd for the release of his brother.
“After the Baghouz battle ended, my brother was arrested. He has been in prison for one year and a half on charges of ties to the ISIS organization,” he said.
On Thursday, the Syrian Democratic Council announced the release of 631 prisoners charged of committing terrorist acts out of the 12,000 Syrian suspects who are accused of collaborating with ISIS.
Amina Omar, co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Party (SDC), said that the Council released Syrians who collaborated with ISIS but had not committed criminal acts.
Around 253 others would also benefit from the amnesty and would be released once they complete half of their sentences.
Hamdan, from the villages of Jabal Abdulaziz in western Hassakah, was waiting in front of the prison to welcome his son.
“My son and dozens of others were put in jail for membership to ISIS based on false reports. As a result, he unjustly remained in prison for one year,” he said.