A protest has erupted in Homs prison in support of ISIS amid the militant group’s military advance in Syria’s semi-desert region east of the city.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it received a copy of a video showing a demonstration that sources told the group took place in the Homs Prison.
“The demonstrators [protested in support] of ISIS and its [leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” the monitoring NGO said Thursday.
The video, which was published on YouTube earlier in the week, shows the protesters chanting “the people want the Islamic State,” in a play on the “people want the fall of the regime” chant made famous during the Arab Spring protests of 2011.
The Islamist prisoners also chanted “the Syrian army is [made up of] thieves.”
SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahmam told Asharq Alawsat that the detainees started the protest “after knowing that the militant organization [ISIS] advanced to Palmyra east of Homs.”
He added that Homs Prison is currently devoid of civil activists and detainees who attended protests “because they are all housed in detention centers and other security branches.”
ISIS seized Palmyra—which is located 140 kilometers east of Homs—on May 20 in a lightning advance that saw regime troops take flight to the west.
With the advent of Ramadan, fears have risen that ISIS will yet again launch a large scale offensive, possibly on Homs, to burnish its military credentials and overall strategic position.
The Institute for the Study of War on June 7 published a report analyzing ISIS’ potential courses of action during the Muslim holy month, noting that the militant group announced the creation of its Caliphate during the first days of Ramadan last year.
“For the past three years, ISIS has conducted major offensive operations during the Ramadan holy month, accomplishing its major annual campaign objectives,” the think tank said.
In its analysis of the most dangerous courses of action ISIS could take during Ramadan, ISW said that the group could strike a serious blow to the regime by attacking Homs.
“One feasible way for ISIS to change ground conditions in the 2015 Ramadan period is to launch a major offensive to seize control of the regime-held provincial capital of Homs City, a vital logistical hub for the regime.”