Syria Kurds hunting down ISIS militants after prison attack

Published : 21 Jan 2022 08:08 PM

Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria on Friday Jan 21 were hunting down Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group fighters after an ISIS attack on a Kurdish-run prison housing fellow terrorists, a war monitor and Kurdish forces said.

The rare attack on Ghwayran prison in Hassakeh province on Thursday saw the Islamists 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 ISIS prisoners managed to break out", but it remains unclear whether they have since been killed or recaptured.

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

The attack triggered clashes between the militants and 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, using an alternate acronym for the terror group.

Mr Abdel Rahman described it as one of the largest such attacks by ISIS since its proto-state was declared defeated in 2019.

"At least six IS fighters have been killed in the clashes," Mr Abdel Rahman said, without specifying the number of lives lost among the SDF fighters.

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 ISIS fighters that conducted the attack were hiding out in civilian homes in the neighbourhood of Al-Zuhoor near the jail.

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

ISIS fighters "are using civilians in the Al-Zuhoor neighbourhood and areas north of the prison as human shields", it said, adding that ISIS had killed some civilians in the area.

"Our forces and the relevant security services are moving with great precision and sensitivity to contain this incident."