HASSAKAH: Clashes between Kurdish forces and Daesh group fighters near a Syrian prison left 332 people dead, the Syrian Observatory has reported.
A Daesh assault on the sprawling Ghwayran Prison complex near the northeastern Syrian city of Hassakah on Jan. 20 sparked days of heavy fighting.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced they had recaptured the prison on Wednesday, but that mop-up operations continued.
On Saturday, there were “clashes in the vicinity of the prison between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish security forces on the one hand, and members of IS (Daesh) who are hiding in the area,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The war monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, said that four Daesh fighters are holding a local official and three civilians hostage in a residential building near the prison.
The SDF said on Wednesday some 3,500 Daesh members had surrendered, but that holdout Daesh fighters had barricaded themselves inside the prison facility. The Daesh gunmen are in “cellars that are difficult to target with airstrikes or infiltrate” the observatory said.
SDF officials estimate that between 60 and 90 Daesh fighters were still in the basement and the ground floor above it.
An AFP correspondent reported that US troops and Kurdish-led forces have surrounded the building and deployed snipers on nearby rooftops, reporting there was intermittent shooting.
Kurdish forces have repeatedly called for Daesh gunmen to surrender. “Our forces have not used force with them so far,” Farhad Shami, who heads the SDF’s media office, said on Saturday.
Kurdish-led forces have banned journalists from accessing the Ghwayran neighborhood or approaching the prison since the start of the attack.
The fighting has killed more than 260 people, including around 180 jihadists, 73 Kurdish-led fighters and seven civilians, the observatory said, adding that the death toll is likely to increase.