Authorities linked to the Bashar al-Assad regime have agreed to release 30 detainees from the Hama prison in Syria in exchange for ending the ongoing prison riot that has been raging since Monday, reports a monitor group.
On Tuesday, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the conflict in Syria through a network of ground sources, reported that prisoners were protesting a scheduled transfer of prisoners from the facility in the city of Hama to the infamous Sednaya military prison near Damascus.
The prison in the city of Hama, which is the provincial capital of the province of the same name, houses political and Islamist detainees, noted the Observatory.
Meanwhile, Sednaya, which is also operated by the Assad regime, has been linked to the massacre and torture of prisoners. The military prison reportedly holds Islamists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed in Syria as it has in other Arab countries.
The prisoners, many of whom have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention, have also demanded “basic rights,” including a fair trial or release, reported the U.K. monitor group.
On Wednesday, the unnamed sources told the Observatory that the “revolt” at the Hama prison continues and that there are “nearly 10 members from the regime forces inside the prison.”
Today, sources also told the monitor group that authorities at the Hama prison have “approved” the release of nearly “30 prisoners … in exchange for ending this ongoing revolt.”
Moreover, the “power and water” have been shut off, revealed the Observatory, adding that regime troops have “tried to storm the prison but they have failed.”
Assad regime troops have reportedly surrounded the prison and “have launched tear gas” in an effort to quell the riot.
Sources confirmed to the Observatory that the 30 prisoners are demanding to be released to the rebel-held area of Qalaat al-Madiq, which, like the prison, is also located in Hama province.
Ajnad al-Sham (Soldiers of Damascus), one of the biggest rebel coalitions with affiliates in the Hama region, issued a statement Wednesday, vowing to attack the Assad forces if the prisoners’ demands were not met.
“The prisoners asked for their most fundamental rights, namely, for them have a trial and to end the arbitrary arrests,” said the group, which is neither linked to al-Qaeda nor the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). “The regime responded by [threatening] to siege and storm the prison and to execute all prisoners without a trial (in field execution).”
An Assad Interior Ministry official is cited by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) as denying “reports from some media about Hama central prison,” without elaborating further.