Sat. May 28th, 2022

ISIL attack in Hasakeh was one of the deadliest since the armed group lost its territory in 2019.

At least 120 people have been killed in ongoing US-backed fighting, Kurdish-led forces and ISIL (ISIS) fighters after an attack on a Syrian prison.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “at least 77 IS members and 39 Kurdish fighters, including internal security forces, prison guards and counter-terrorism forces, were killed” in the attack that began Thursday.

ISIL has accepted responsibility for the jailbreak Friday on his Amaq media mouthpiece. A video released on Saturday pretended to show armed men infiltrating the jail and hoisting the group’s black flag as they stormed the Kurdish – controlled Ghwayran jail in the city of Hasakeh. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the authenticity of the footage.

At least seven civilians were also killed in the fighting, according to the SOHR.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Sunday they had intensified its siege, assisted by US-led troops, and that 17 of its soldiers had been killed.

The SDF initially said it thwarted the outbreak and arrested 89 fighters who were hiding nearby, but later admitted that prisoners had taken over parts of the facility.

An SDF spokesman also said the militia had recaptured 104 prisoners who had escaped, but the total number of those who broke out was not determined.

Attackers detonated a car bomb near the prison gates, which helped dozens of prisoners flee to Ghwayran district.

The SDF’s top military commander, Mazloum Abadi, said on Friday that ISIL had mobilized “most of its sleeping cells” to organize the jail term.

The U.S. Pentagon has confirmed that the coalition against ISIL carried out airstrikes in support of the SDF as it sought to end the prison break.

The violence was the deadliest in detention centers where thousands of suspected ISIL members were arrested after being defeated with US support in northern and eastern Syria.

It was not clear how many prisoners were in jail, which is the largest facility where the SDF is holding thousands of prisoners. Human Rights Watch estimates the SDF holds about 12,000 men and boys suspected of ISIL affiliation, including 2,000 to 4,000 foreigners from about 50 countries.

The fighting caused a civilian exodus from neighborhoods around Ghwayran with families fleeing in the bitter winter cold when Kurdish forces closed.

“Thousands left their homes near the jail and fled to nearby areas where their relatives live,” Sheikhmous Ahmed, an official in the autonomous Kurdish administration, told AFP news agency.

Free your comrades

ISIL has taken refuge guerrilla attacks since losing its last significant piece of territory in Syria in 2019.

Despite their defeat, ISIL sleeping cells carried out deadly attacks against SDF as well as government forces on the western bank of the Tigris River in eastern Syria.

Freeing comrades was a major tactic of the group. During its 2014 uprising that overwhelmed territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIL carried out several jail interruptions.

It was not immediately clear whether the jail break was part of a centrally coordinated operation that coincided with an attack on a military base in neighboring Iraqor the action of a local ISIL cell.

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