Kurdish-led group tightens siege after ISIS prison break

Smoke rises as clashes continue between ISIS militants and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hasakah, Syria

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have tightened their siege of a prison housing Islamic State (ISIS) suspects after inmates took over the facility, Reuters cited officials as saying on Sunday.

The militants attacked Ghweran prison in northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah on Thursday, attempting to free prisoners that include the group’s leaders.

Militants detonated a car bomb near the prison gates, helping dozens of inmates and flee to the neighboring Ghweran district in Hasakah, Reuters cited officials and witnesses as saying.

At least 70 inmates were killed in the attack, according to the officials and witnesses.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 61 ISIS militants were killed in clashes with the SDF and internal security forces.

Up to 34 members of the SDF and local forces as well as seven civilians were also killed during the fighting, SOHR added.

The Kurdish-led group initially said it had thwarted the breakout and arrested 89 militants sheltering nearby, but later acknowledged that inmates had taken over parts of the facility.

The SDF said 17 of its forces were killed in the deadliest rioting in detention centers holding thousands of suspected militants detained after they were defeated with U.S. support in north and east Syria, according to Reuters.

Reuters cited Arab tribal figures as saying that U.S.-led Coalition troops had taken over positions around the prison and planes were seen flying overhead.

Ghweran Prison is the largest of around a dozen facilities run by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces holding suspected ISIS fighters. It holds more than 3,000 inmates, including ISIS leaders and figures considered among the most dangerous.

The United States condemned ISIS attack on Saturday, commending the SDF for their “swift response” to the attempt to free prisoners.

“It is a credit to the diligent, capable efforts of the SDF and Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS forces that they were able to thwart numerous attacks during that period and limit the severity of this one,” it added.

“The losses sustained by our partners in these attacks are a stark reminder of the very real challenges the region continues to face.”

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