Fighting ongoing in Syria’s Hassakeh as SDF raids ISIL hideouts

Clashes between Kurdish-led forces and ISIL (ISIS) fighters who assaulted a prison complex in northeast Syria are ongoing, despite prior announcements that the attack had been quelled.

Battles broke out anew on Saturday in the vicinity of the prison between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and members of ISIL who were hiding in the area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

According to the UK-based war monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, four ISIL fighters took a local official and three civilians hostage for hours, holding them in a residential building near the prison. Kurdish forces later freed the hostages and killed three ISIL gunmen.

Assailants broke into the sprawling Ghwayran prison complex near the city of Hassakeh on January 20, sparking days of heavy fighting that killed 270 people.

The SDF announced that it had recaptured the prison on Wednesday, but “mop-up operations” continued. About 3,500 ISIL members surrendered, but others barricaded themselves inside the prison.

ISIL gunmen are in “cellars that are difficult to target with air strikes or infiltrate”, the Syrian Observatory said. SDF officials estimate between 60 and 90 ISIL fighters are still in the basement and the ground floor above it.

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