On Wednesday, the UN children agency UNICEF voiced concern over reports of the death of children in the al-Sina’a prison in the Ghweran neighborhood in Hassakeh city, northeastern Syria, during clashes with ISIS.
In a statement released by Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said all parties to the conflict in Syria should bear responsibilities to spare civilians and those who do not carry arms, and they should give priority to the safety of all the children inside the Ghweran prison.
“The children stranded inside the prison might be forced to play an active role in the ongoing clashes between ISIS detainees and the security forces,” Fore said.
The issue of the detained children (Cubs of the Caliphate) came to the front days after the Islamic State (ISIS) cells attacked the prison and ISIS detainees held the children as human shields.
The attacks, January 20th, triggered clashes as ISIS cells caused three explosions in an attempt to break their fellow members out from the prison.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said ISIS inmates engaged in a riot inside the prison and held the children “Cubs of the Caliphate” as human shields during the ongoing clashes. The SDF fighters are battling ISIS members to prevent their advance and retake control of the prison.
For the seventh day, the SDF has besieged the prison which holds thousands of ISIS inmates in tandem with a combing operation in the Ghweran neighborhood searching for three members of ISIS cells who were involved in the attack on the prison.
On January 23rd, the SDF said ISIS bears full responsibility for any harm that could inflict the Cubs of the Caliphate.
The SDF added that the major obstacle that impedes the advance of the SDF forces is that the terrorists are using the Cubs of the Caliphate, 700 minors linked with ISIS, as human shields.
The SDF pointed out that the children were in special prison dormitories separated from ISIS adult inmates and the objective was to rehabilitate those children from extremist ideologies.
The SDF appealed to the UN, ICRC to intervene to spare the children and prevent their use in military operations by ISIS as well as to surrender the children to the related security forces for their safety.
In the same context, the SDF said western countries absolve themselves from the issue of repatriating citizens who joined ISIS in Syria and put them on trial in their own home countries or disregard providing support for the establishment of an international court to prosecute ISIS members.
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.