Warplanes from the U.S.-led international coalition bombed sites in the northeastern Syrian city of Hassakeh on Friday evening where ISIS militants had holed up following a dramatic prison break earlier that day.
ISIS militants earlier on Friday attacked the Ghwayran prison in Hassakeh, which was run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia, in an attempt to free detainees from the group.
At least 70 people were killed in the resulting violence and fighting is ongoing as of Saturday morning between the SDF and ISIS. The ISIS militants are still in control of the prison.
“At least 28 members of the Kurdish security forces, five civilians and 45 members of ISIS have been killed” in the violence, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), told AFP.
The airstrikes were confirmed by U.S. Defence Department press secretary John Kirby.
A source close to the SDF told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the coalition planes had targeted the Economics Facility of the Hassakeh campus of al-Furat University, where ISIS fighters had taken up positions, causing significant damage to the building.
On Friday, the SDF’s top military commander, Mazloum Abdi, said ISIS mobilized “most of its sleeper cells” to organize the prison break, adding that SDF fighters had managed to apprehend the ISIS fugitives.
“Our security forces mobilized and succeeded with the help of the Coalition to repel the attack and the area around the prison was completely surrounded and all fugitives were arrested,” he wrote on Twitter.
However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that while 130 fighters were apprehended, dozens remained free.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday said it was continuing “operations to keep security in Hassakeh city and the perimeter of the Ghwayran prison,” with the help of coalition allies and Kurdish internal security forces.
It said Saturday’s clashes centered mostly in neighborhoods north of Ghwayran, where it carried out raids and “killed a number of ISIS fighters that had attacked the jail.”
The jihadist group said in a statement released on Friday by its Amaq news agency that its attack on the jail aimed to “free the prisoners”.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.