Kurdish forces slowly advanced Wednesday inside a Syria prison where ISIS members have been holed up for six days, in violence that has cost hundreds of lives, a war monitor said.
More than 100 fighters of the ISIS terrorist group last week attacked Ghwayran prison in the northeast Syrian city of Hasakeh, held by a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration.
The brazen assault on the Kurdish-run prison involved a double suicide bombing and saw the terrorists free fellow ISIS members.
It is considered the most sophisticated attack carried out by the group since it was territorially defeated in Syria nearly three years ago.
On Wednesday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and allied fighters “carried out search operations inside prison blocks” and in areas surrounding the facility, where intermittent clashes had broken out overnight, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
US-backed Kurdish forces were “advancing slowly” inside the facility where terrorists were still holed up, said the Britain-based monitor.
Fighting in and around the prison since Thursday has killed 181 people, including 124 ISIS jihadists, 50 Kurdish fighters and seven civilians, according to the Observatory.
Kurdish forces have freed 32 prison staff, some of whom appeared in video footage that ISIS had shared on social media after launching the attack, the Observatory says.
Some of the terrorists have also reportedly surrendered.
Farhad Shami, who heads the SDF media office, told AFP on Tuesday that “more than 850 terrorist inmates, who either participated in the attack or the mutiny, have surrendered” since the onset of the assault.
Shami said Kurdish forces had called on the ISIS members to “safely surrender,” but denied reports of negotiations with the group.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman on Wednesday said that a Syrian ISIS leader was negotiating with Kurdish forces to end the mutiny and secure medical care for wounded terrorists.
“This issue is an international problem,” Abdulkarim Omar, head of foreign relations in the Kurdish semi-autonomous administration, told AFP on Wednesday.
“We cannot face it alone.”
He called on the international community to “support the autonomous administration to improve security and humanitarian conditions for inmates in detention centers and for those in overcrowded camps.”
ISIS’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 terrorist proto-state in March 2019.
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