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Syria Kurds hunt down Daesh militants after prison attack

This file photo taken on October 26, 2019, shows men suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, gathered in a cell of the Sinaa prison in the Ghwayran neighborhood of the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah. (AFP)
This file photo taken on October 26, 2019, shows men suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group, gathered in a cell of the Sinaa prison in the Ghwayran neighborhood of the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah. (AFP)
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21 Jan 2022 08:01:39 GMT9
21 Jan 2022 08:01:39 GMT9
  • The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said five Daesh prisoners managed to break out
  • The Syrian Democratic Forces said arrested two Daesh fighters that tried to escape from the Ghwayran prison

BEIRUT: Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria on Friday killed a number of Daesh group fighters after their attack on a Kurdish-run prison housing fellow militants, a war monitor reported.

The Syrian Democratic Forces further announced the death of  several of its soldiers in the attack, the report added.

The rare attack on Ghwayran prison in Hassakeh province on Thursday saw the militia detonate a car bomb near the jail and attack Kurdish forces guarding the facility in an attempt to free some of the group’s members, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said “five IS prisoners managed to break out,” but it remains unclear whether they have since been killed or recaptured.

The US-led coalition battling Daesh said “SDF casualties ensued during the attack,” but it did not disclose how many.

The assault triggered clashes between the militants and US-backed SDF forces around the prison that continued into Friday amid heightened security measures, the Observatory said.

“Clashes are ongoing between IS fighters and (Kurdish) military forces in the area,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, describing it as one of the largest such attacks by Daesh since its proto-state was declared defeated in 2019.

The SDF, which oversees the jail, said on Friday that it “arrested two IS fighters that tried to escape from the Ghwayran prison” as part of combing operations following the attack.

The militants were captured in the vicinity of the jail, it said.

It said Daesh fighters that carried out the attack were hiding in civilian homes in the neighborhood of Al-Zuhoor near the jail.

“Exceptional security measures in the vicinity of the prison and surrounding neighborhoods are ongoing,” it said in a statement on Friday morning.

Daesh fighters “are using civilians in the Al-Zuhoor neighborhood and areas north of the prison as human shields,” it said, adding that the militia had killed some civilians in the area.

“Our forces and the relevant security services are moving with great precision and sensitivity to contain these incident.”

Ghwayran is one of the largest facilities housing Daesh fighters in a semi-autonomous region controlled by Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria.

According to Kurdish authorities, more than 50 nationalities are represented in a number of Kurdish-run prisons where more than 12,000 Daesh suspects are now held.

From France to Tunisia, many of the Daesh prisoners’ countries of origins have been reluctant to repatriate them, fearing a public backlash at home.

Daesh “remains an existential threat in Syria and cannot be allowed to regenerate,” the coalition said in a statement after Thursday’s attack.

“Coalition forces will continue to defend against and deter hostile activities against ourselves and our partners.”

The extremist group’s self-declared caliphate, established from 2014, once stretched across vast parts of Syria and Iraq and administered millions of inhabitants.

A long and deadly military fightback led by Syrian and Iraqi forces with backing from the United States and other powers eventually defeated the Daesh proto-state in March 2019.

The remnants of the group mostly went back to their desert hideouts from which they continue to attack Syrian government and allied forces.

Earlier this month, Daesh fighters shot dead an aid worker with the Kurdish Red Crescent at the Al-Hol camp for displaced people.

Last week, a militant attack near Syria’s border with Iraq killed five Syrian pro-regime fighters and wounded 14 others, according to the Observatory.

AFP

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