ISIS militants stage riot and escape from Syrian prison

Several members of the terrorist organisation sparked a riot in the Ghouiran prison, in the northeastern city of Hasakah, which is run by the US allied Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Guards were overwhelmed by the inmates, who knocked holes through the walls between cells and broke down internal doors, seizing control of an entire floor on Sunday. Syrian state media reported that 12 men had escaped the prison.

According to the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least four ISIS militants had escaped.

Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office, tweeted: “Some of them managed to escape and our forces are searching to capture them.

“The situation is tense inside the prison currently.”

He added: “Anti-terror forces are dealing with the situation in the first floor to finish riots in the prison”.

An SDF official told Agency France Presse: “Security forces are on high alert.

“International coalition planes are flying over the prison and the region.”

The identities of the escapees are not known. It has been reported that the prison held “low-level ISIS members” who are primarily foreign nationals.

The prison facility, a former school in the Kurdish-controlled north Syria, is believed to hold nearly 5,000 prisoners.

Kurdish authorities run more than two dozen detention facilities across the region, holding about 10,000 ISIS fighters.

Among those detained are some 2,000 foreigners, including about 800 Europeans.

It is not clear if the riots were linked to fears over a potential coronavirus outbreak.

Prison riots have taken place in several cities around the world, with inmates protesting that overcrowding and poor health services leave them vulnerable.

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At least 23 people died and 83 injured last Monday after prisoners attempted to escape at La Modelo prison in Bogota, Colombia.

Earlier this month, prison riots in Italy left at least six people dead after reports emerged that the Government intended to ban prison visits in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The news provoked outrage in a number of Italian jails, leading to the deaths of six inmates at a prison in Modena.

The Modena riots sparked copycat riots at prisons in Salerno, Naples, Alessandria, Vercelli, Bari, Palermo, Foggia and Frosinone.

At Frosinone, south of Rome, 100 prisoners barricaded themselves into a section of the prison.

The inmates demanded the right to receive visits from their loved ones, and tried to negotiate with the prison management, the Agi news agency reported.

ISIS has warned its supporters to avoid travelling to Europe in response to the spread of coronavirus on the continent.

Earlier this month, an edition of the organisation’s al-Naba newsletter contained “sharia directives” urging its members to “stay away from the land of the epidemic” to avoid becoming infected.

It recommended readers “cover their mouths when yawning and sneezing” as well as to regularly wash their hands.

ISIS instructed those of its followers who had become ill with coronavirus not to leave the area, in order to prevent the disease from spreading.

They said the “healthy should not enter the land of the epidemic and the afflicted should not exit from it”.

The letter went on to describe the virus as a “torment sent by God”, adding that “illnesses do not strike by themselves but by the command and decree of God”.

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Coronavirus heartbreak: Infected doctor, 59, dies alone in self-isolation

The doctor who put herself into isolation died alone in her kitchen after contracting coronavirus. Doctor Isabel Munoz, 59, put herself into a strict quarantine at her home in Salamanca, north-western Spain, ordering her husband to stay away with family after she displayed symptoms. The health professional decided to lock herself away when she first suffered symptoms of COVID-19 even though she had not been tested, local media reports.

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Greece crisis: Islands in RUINS as ‘nightmare within nightmare’ scenario erupts

That is the stark verdict of human rights researchers who claim that Greece faces a “nightmare within a nightmare” if an outbreak occurs at a time when the country remains in financial ruin. Express.co.uk has reported that around 38,000 refugees are currently living in horror camps, with no water or electricity to support them. The refugees are from Turkey, which allowed them to travel to the EU after disobeying its pact with the bloc over controlled migration.

Turkey’s reluctance to continue with the deal came as a result of Brussels’ flawed approach over where the refugees would be rehomed afterwards.

With thousands of people, many children, crammed into these destitute areas fit to home only 6,000, mass panic has erupted throughout the Aegean islands, where they are currently residing.

Locals and volunteers fear that at any moment, a coronavirus case could be contracted, leading to a rapid spread throughout the unhygienic camps. 

Earlier this week, the International Rescue Committee described the situation as a “tinderbox ready to explode,” before calling on EU member states to help move the refugees on to safe locations within the bloc.

But now, researcher group Human Rights Watch is demanding Greece take action to avoid a nightmare scenario, where cases of the infection starkly rise on its islands.

The HRW joined 21 other human rights organisations in condemning the Greek government, which has received millions in support from the EU in tackling the refugee crisis.

Eva Cosse, Greece researcher at HRW, said: “Restricting thousands of women, men, and children in severely overcrowded camps, where living conditions are unacceptable, makes it impossible to isolate people exposed to COVID-19 or to comply with minimum preventive and protective measures, even hand washing and social-distancing. 

“The Greek government urgently needs to move people to mainland Greece.”

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Another concerned at the lack of action is Vassilis Kerasiotis, HIAS’ Greece country director.

He said: “The government must take the necessary steps in order to ensure that the thousands of asylum seekers and migrants living in claustrophobically congested RICs are protected. 

“They should be relocated to otherwise empty hotels and apartments where they can practice social distancing. In these hard times, no one should be left behind.

“It is not only a moral but also a prudent thing to do, since the fates of asylum seekers as well as those of the locals are inevitably bound together in the face of the pandemic.”

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The IRC confirmed that so far no case of the coronavirus had been found within its refugee centres, but Greece had recently confirmed its infection.

The major concern is how quickly the virus will spread and whether Greece, which has been plagued with financial difficulties for years despite EU bailouts, will be able to control it.

Fotini Kokkinaki with HumanRights360 added: “When the virus hits overcrowded camps in Greece, the consequences will be devastating. 

“That will be a nightmare within an existing nightmare since the public health system has collapsed during the previous years of economic depression. 

“We must act now before it is too late.”

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BBC Weather: Freak heatwave to end as temperatures plunge and thunderstorms thrash Europe

BBC meteorologist Chris Fawkes told viewers that an area of low pressure is bringing some wet and windy weather across most areas of Italy. He noted that the low pressure had been forming as it comes across from north Africa. The weather presenter forecast that is would bring some heavy rain and also some snow.

Mr Fawkes said: “We’ve even seen some snow down across the western side of Calabria.

“It’s down to quite low levels just for a time.

“The snowline will be rising though but there could be some further fairly heavy snow for a time at least in the Pennines during Thursday.

“At the same time, the rain is going to, by Thursday, push into parts of Greece.”

He continued: “There’ll be some thunderstorms breaking out here and the weather turning much cooler.

“It’s still very windy in Italy on Thursday, still with extensive rain around.

“We’ve got some showers across the Balearic Islands, but across much of mainland Spain and Portugal, it’s dry with some sunshine.

“It’s rather cloudy for the southeast of France, otherwise brighter with sunshine.”

The BBC presenter added: “Most of northern Europe is actually fine, settled and sunny with not a great deal of cloud around.

“The area of low pressure is weakening by this stage and pushing eastwards.

“So we’ll start to get some rain across the Balkans.”

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Mr Fawkes also told viewers: “Heavier rain will push across Greece and into western areas of Turkey as we end the week.

“Over the next few days, Madrid is looking dry with some sunshine.

“It’s quite mild for a time this weekend but it does turn more unsettled next week.

“There’ll be cloud and rain around with temperatures certainly falling quiet a bit.

“In Kyiv, it is mild over the next few days with some sunshine but turning generally a bit cloudier this weekend.”

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