The cassation court said it confirmed evidence backing the sentence passed last July by a state security court against ex-royal court chief Bassem Awadallah, who played a big role in the drive to liberalise Jordan’s economy, and Sherif Hassan Zaid, a distant relative of King Abdullah.
Men suspected of being affiliated with the Daesh terror group in a cell of the Sinaa prison in the Ghwayran neighbourhood of the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh. The Daesh group attacked a Kurdish-run jail in northeast Syria on Thursday, freeing fellow terrorists, a war monitor reported without specifying how many escaped. Image Credit: AFP

Baghdad:  Gunmen from the Daesh terrorist group attacked an army barracks in a mountainous area north of Baghdad early Friday, killing 11 soldiers as they slept, the Iraqi military and security officials said.

The officials said the attack occurred in the Al Azim district, an open area north of Baqouba in Diyala province. The circumstances of the attack were not immediately clear, but two officials who spoke to The Associated Press said Daesh group terrorists broke into the barracks at 3am local time and shot dead the soldiers.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorised to issue official statements. An Iraqi military statement said the dead included an officer with the rank of lieutenant and 10 soldiers.

The brazen attack more than 120km north of the capital Baghdad was one of the deadliest targeting the Iraqi military in recent months.

It came as clashes with Daesh militants outside a prison in neighbouring Syria continued since late Thursday. The assault on the prison holding hundreds of Daesh detainees and attempted escape in Kurdish-held northeastern Syria was described as the biggest on a detention facility since the terror group’s territorial defeat.

The Daesh group was largely defeated in Iraq in 2017, and in Syria in 2019, although it remains active through sleeper cells in many areas. The terrorists still conduct operations, often targeting security forces, power stations and other infrastructure.

In October, terrorists raided a predominantly Shiite village in Diyala province, killing 11 civilians and wounding several others. Officials at the time said the attack occurred after the militants had kidnapped villagers and their demands for ransom were not met.

The officials said army reinforcements were sent to the village where Friday’s attack occurred, and security forces deployed in surrounding areas. More details were not immediately available.

“We affirm that the blood of the heroic martyrs will not be in vain and that the response by our heroic army units will be very harsh,’’ the Iraqi military statement said.

Daesh attacks have been on the rise in recent months in both Iraq and neighboring Syria, where the group once set up a self-styled Islamic caliphate before being defeated by an international coalition.

On Thursday evening, Daesh militants mounted a complex attack on one of the largest detention facilities in northeast Syria to try and free fighters from the group incarcerated there.

Kurdish-led forces who control the Gweiran Prison in the city of Hassakeh, which houses about 3,000 inmates, said prisoners rioted and tried to escape while a car bomb went off outside the prison as gunmen clashed with security forces.

Clashes continue

A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Farhad Shami, said clashes continued into Friday in the area around the prison, adding that at least two members of his force were killed and four were missing.

The fighters were led by foreign militants, not Syrians, many of whom spoke in Iraqi dialect, Shami said. So far 12 militants were confirmed killed, he added.

The SDF said 89 militants who escaped were arrested. Another group of inmates staged a new escape attempt Friday, the SDF added.

The US-led coalition carried out an airstrike after reported casualties among the Syrian-led Kurdish forces late Thursday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at least 20 Kurdish security forces and prison guards were killed in the clashes, alongside six militants and five civilians. It described the attack as the most violent one committed by Daesh since its territorial defeat in 2019. The Observatory said the inmates are mostly in control of the prison, while Kurdish forces attempt to wrestle it back.

In 2014, Daesh established a self-declared Islamic caliphate that covered large parts of Iraq and Syria. The ensuing war against them lasted several years and left large parts of the two neighboring countries in ruins. It also left US-allied Kurdish authorities in control of eastern and northeastern Syria, with a small presence of several hundred American forces still deployed there.