By day, they faced torture and the constant threat of execution at the hands of their ISIS captors. At night, they used a stolen piece of jagged metal to scrape the crumbling wall of their prison until last week, when they had fashioned a hole big enough to squeeze through.

A 30-year-old man who was one of 20 who fled the jail in Tabaqa, Syria, days later recounted the daring escape to the Syrian activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. As the prisoners poured out of the hand-hewn tunnel, running all directions into the night, a siren and the cries of a captured fellow escapee spurred him on until, exhausted, he reached the home of strangers. They hid him until he contacted a friend who came for him.

“Every day for three months they tortured him,” the friend, who is a member of the group of former residents of Raqqa now dedicated to shining a light inside the caliphate, where international media cannot go, told  “But after a while, the torture just became routine.”

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Image: Screengrab from Kurdish soldiers helmet cam shows forces ISIS prison in Hawijah, in northern Iraq last fall.(Kurdistan Regional Security Council)