America’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison suffered a massive attack Monday, resulting in the escape of 500 prisoners. According to Reuters, some of the escaped prisoners were senior-level members of al Qaeda. The attacks are a harsh reminder that, unfortunately, detrimental losses are always a fundamental part in war, especially in a region such as the Middle East, which has been burdened with turmoil for decades.
The prison gained its ill-famed reputation during the United States’ overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the early 2000s, when U.S. troops abused and tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
The attack late Sunday night began as suicide bombers drove cars into the gates and launched rocket-propelled grenades at guards, resulting in the deaths of 10 policemen and 4 militants.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, a group formed earlier this year by al Qaeda members in Syria and Iraq, has made a statement since the Abu Ghraib attack took place, saying that they were responsible for the ambush and the freeing of some of the top terrorists in the nation.
“The mujahideen brigades set off after months of preparation and planning to target two of the biggest prisons of the Safavid government,” stated the Islamic State of Iraq and Levent on Tuesday.
The al Qaeda group also stated it was behind a simultaneous assault on the Taji Jail, which is just north of Abu Ghraib. However, the attackers on Taji were fought off with helicopters, Iraqi authorities said.
Escaped prisoners from the Abu Ghraib attack are still on the lam, and various checkpoints have been set up throughout Abu Ghraib by Iraqi authorities. The number of recovered inmates is unknown at this time.
The prison ambushes come after ten days of violence in Iraq, during which at least 250 people were killed by ambushes, gunfire, and car bombs, reported the Iraq Body Count.
Nevertheless, the recent violence in Abu Ghraib and Iraq has caused U.S. officials to warn of a an impending civil war in the Middle East. If so, years of effort on the part of the United States sending troops to stabilize the Middle East would risk undoing the gains that have been made in the region.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.