Signs of Electrocution and Eyes Distortion

The death of two detainees in SDF prisons within few days

Justice for Life organization documented the death of two people in detention in Deir Ezzor, Ali Mahmoud al-Issa, and Athab Aziz Al-Shalash. 

It is not the first time that victims who have died in SDF prisons have been documented after taking control of areas north of the Euphrates River in Deir Ezzor since 2017. 

Between July 14 and July 23, 2020, the organization met with three witnesses who were aware of the details of the incidents, and the witnesses requested anonymity for their own security.

Case 1: Ali Mahmoud al-Issa

Personal information

Ali Mahmoud al-Issa was born in 1979, in the village of Jazira al-Melaj, in the western countryside of Deir Ezzor, married with five children, part of his family is living in the Tel Abyad area of Raqqa countryside, and others in Deir Ezzor, working as a microbus driver on the Deir Ezzor-Hasakeh and Deir Ezzor-Manbij roads.

Ali Mahmoud al-Issa

Credit: The witness

Incident Details

Ali was arrested on July 2, 2020 while working near “Sabah Al-Khair”  area of Deir Ezzor province, about (45 km) away from the village of Al-Jazra, the victim’s hometown. “Ali was arrested by intelligence services operating in Al-Kasra area, confiscated the microbus without arresting any of the passengers, and was charged with smuggling people into “Al Irtiwazeyy“ area, which is administratively part of  Raqqa province, and is under the control of the SDF,” the witness says.

Ali Mahmoud al-Issa after receiving his body

Credit: The witness

“We first learned, through intermediaries from the community figures who met with security leaders and demanded Ali’s release, with his presence at the intelligence headquarters in Al-Kasra district, where he remained for five days before being transferred to a detention centre in Al-Shaddadi area of Hasakeh province,” the witness said.

A relative of the detainee visited him at his place of detention in the “Sabah Al-Khair”  area, where Ali explained the charge against him and who arrested him,  and asked him to seek his release as soon as possible, No one was able to visit him afterwards. “Former detainees who saw Ali told us that his health was serious. This is the last piece of information we were able to get, and they didn’t explain his health in detail for fear of any charges against them.”

On July 12, 2020, a community figure from al-Kasra asked Ali’s relatives to come to his home to informed them of his death after arriving at the Shaddadi detention centre.

An intelligence leader informed tribal notables in the area that the cause of death was infarction and nervous breakdown, and that they could receive the body. 

“A delegation of residents of the area went to the National Hospital in Hasakeh, and we saw the body with signs of torture in more than one area of the body,” the witness said.

Signs of injuries on the victim body after receiving it

Credit: The witness

The witness confirms that Ali was arrested without any judicial order and was not released despite all the best attempts to do so.

Case 2: Athab Aziz Al-Shalash:

Personal information

Born in 1991, from the town of Dhiban, east of Deir Ezzor, is married and holds an institute certificate and is a self-employed.

Athab Aziz Al-Shalash

 Credit: Witnesses

Incident Details

On September 15, 2019, an SDF affiliated military group arrested Athab Al-Shalash  at 10 p.m. nearby the bakery in the town of Dhiban. “He stayed at a military post in the town for one day, one of the elements at the point told us that he had been subjected to cruel treatment and severe torture, and the next day he was transferred to the general security headquarters in Al-Bsaira, where he was interrogated,” the witnesses said.

“He did not join any faction and confessed under torture during the interrogation that he was a member of the “Islamic State “ group, a charge for which he was arrested for.”

About a month later, he was transferred to the general security headquarters in al-Kasra town and remained there for about eight months, after which he was transferred to al-Suar prison. “We learned of this through a public security officer who informed us that Athab was taken to a hospital in Hasaka after his health deteriorated on July 17, 2020, and the same person reported death a day after he was moved to the hospital.”

Signs of surgical operation on the victim body after receiving it

Credit: Witnesses

On July 18, 2020, witnesses went with the relatives of the victim and local notables to take the body. “We do not know the cause of death, but there are signs of torture and electric shock on areas on the victim’s shoulder, butt and eyes that appeared to be distorted, and we also noticed signs of surgical operation on his foot and traces of cavity.”


Justice for Life  organization called on SDF to respect the rights of defendants enshrined in international treaties in their prisons by a report issued on  June 2, 2020. The report also stressed the need to provide detailed information on the detention centres of the security services. Justice for Life again urges the SDF and the Autonomous Administration to launch a transparent investigation of these incidents and all abuses committed within prisons. International and local organizations are also urged for putting  pressure in this direction, and that the local judiciary must carry out its duties.   

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