SOHR: Kurdish forces retake prison from ISIS • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR: Kurdish forces retake prison from ISIS

U.S.-backed Syrian group says militants used child detainees as human shields

U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces said they wrestled control of the last section of a prison seized by Islamic State militants and freed a number of child detainees they had used as human shields.

That ended a deadly, weeklong assault by the extremists on one of the largest detention facilities in Syria, located in the northeastern city of Hassakeh.

In the week of clashes, dozens from both sides have been killed, the U.S.-led coalition has carried out nearly a dozen airstrikes and thousands of civilians living nearby have been displaced.

“The whole prison is now under control,” said Farhad Shami, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces. “The operation today was on the cells of the child detainees. We were able to surround a number of terrorists who had taken them as shields and we killed them.”

Shami said the force was then able to enter the cells and the remaining militants surrendered. A large number of children were freed, he said, but had no specific number.

Shami said about 3,000 inmates have surrendered since the operation closing in on the northern wing began two days ago. He said the preliminary death toll among his force is estimated at 35.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 124 ISIS militants, 50 fighters with the Kurdish-led forces and seven civilians were killed in the weeklong attack that extended outside the walls of the prison into residential areas.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said earlier Wednesday it had freed 23 of its servicemen held hostage by ISIS militants.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition Bradley Fighting Vehicles and air support, had been closing in on the prison wing controlled by the armed militants.

“The makeshift prisons throughout Syria are a breeding ground for Daesh’s failed ideology,” said Maj. Gen. John W Brennan, Jr., commander of the anti-ISIS coalition. “We must thoroughly investigate the circumstances that allowed this attack to happen,” he added in a statement.

On Wednesday, Iraq’s prime minister made a rare visit to the country’s border with Syria in a show of support to troops and said Iraqi forces were capable of resisting the Islamic State group, also know as ISIS.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi was in Ninevah province to inspect security measures.

“You must intensify your efforts and work around the clock,” he said, addressing border officials and security forces, according to a statement from his office.

Al-Kadhimi said he was confident Iraqi security forces would be able to thwart ISIS. The group overran vast swathes of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014 largely because Iraqi forces retreated.

“I say to the terrorists of Daesh: Do not test us, you have tried a lot and failed. You will try a lot and you will fail,” he said.



Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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