Horrifying images show inside a former luxury hotel in northern Syria that ISIS jihadis turned into a brutal jail where prisoners were tortured on stretching racks and electrocution chairs.
Sun Online was granted exclusive access to the former resort in Manbij, which was taken over by extremists who held more than 100 prisoners at a time.
The hotel is now being refurbished, but site manager Rambo – real name Agile – explains: “It was a beautiful place before, it had Turkish baths, luxury rooms and spas – but ISIS turned that into the torture prison for Manbij.”
In the basement below the main lobby there is an assortment of concrete rooms, each with mountains of evidence of bloodthirsty torture and killings.
The hotel in Manbij, which is now being refurbished, tortured ISIS prisoners
Pointing to one room, Rambo, who is from Manbij, states: “In this room prisoners were tied up and hung against the wall in darkness, like cattle.
“In this room, the prisoners were chained up – at least 10 at time – to concrete and had to sit in a baby position for days.”
Graffiti is all over the pitch-black basement walls and doors, showing various ISIS propaganda and slogans.
“This is a sign of showing the pledge of allegiance to ISIS,” the builder explains pointing to a tree surrounded by the jihadists’ black flag.
“ISIS turned this place into a hell, but we are refurbishing it back to a hotel and will soon remove any evidence of ISIS ever being here,” the 20-year-old adds, while walking back into the lobby.
Rambo shows one of the cell doors they removed from the prison ISIS turned the hotel into
In the front courtyard there is also a collection of some of the cruel devices the thuggish extremists used to interrogate and torture the prisoners.
“This is human stretching rack,” Rambo says while showing how the prisoners would be strung up and tortured.
“And over here is a chair where people would be electrocuted.”
According another builder working on the site, Abdullah, the prison at its peak could hold more than 100 prisoners and one could be taken there for some of the most minor crimes.
“If you did not wear the right dress, smoked, or even if your beard was not long enough you could be taken here,” the 29-year-old bricklayer explains.
“It mostly held locals, but there was also some former ISIS members and foreigners taken here too.”
The massage and steam area of the Turkish baths in the hotel
The hotel was taken over by the jihadists and converted into a prison shortly after the extremists captured the city back in January 2014.
“Manbij had to endure over two years of rule by ISIS – during that time, people were brutally persecuted and could not enjoy themselves,” a policeman manning a checkpoint says.
The city was only liberated in August 2016 after the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] – a group of Arab and Kurdish fighters, backed by the Americans – entered the town and drove out the jihadists.
“But now, people can enjoy themselves, watching football – all this was forbidden during the time of Daesh,” he says.
Many of the 100,000 residents were forced to leave when the extremists took over the city, and have only recently returned.
“When ISIS came many people from Manbij fled, some to Rojava in the Kurdish controlled northern Syria, some to Turkey, and some to the West,” an SDF fighter who was involved in the liberation says.
“The people here did not support them – many people who came were not from Manbij… For instance the Emir [chief] of that prison was from Saudi Arabia,”he says.
SDF fighters who helped liberate manbji from Daesh
One of those who left soon after ISIS arrived was Hussein Ghanyani, a shopkeeper whose family has owned their clothing business in Manbij’s central market for generations.
“I was sad to shut this shop. It has been in my family for over 125 years. But I had to leave. I went to Italy, Milan, and my son Hassan fled to Turkey,” the 66-year-old says.
“It was just too dangerous,” he adds. “They could pick you up in their car at anytime and take you anywhere.”
This well travelled businessman believes those who joined the extremist group were not Islamic.
“Daesh is not Islam. Islam is good. Daesh just brought all the ‘crazies’ from all over the world here,” the father-of-three says.
“Out of ten people who work for Daesh, nine of them were crazy and would blow himself up.
“And the tenth was a ‘mafia’ boss. He was maybe not crazy and would not blow himself up,” he chuckles, “But he would definitely steal your money.”
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