Kurdish-led forces in northeast Syria on Friday found the bodies of 18 fellow fighters inside a prison that ISIS attacked last week, a war monitor reported.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Wednesday that they had recaptured the sprawling complex in the city of Hasakeh following a January 20 ISIS jailbreak attempt that sparked days of clashes inside the facility and in surrounding areas.
But mop-up operations are still underway in the Ghwayran prison where Kurdish forces say dozens of terrorists remain holed up.
During a sweep on Friday, the SDF backed by Kurdish internal security forces “found the corpses of 18 fellow fighters killed by terrorists”, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The war monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, also reported that an overnight air strike near the jail, carried out by the US-led coalition battling ISIS, killed seven terrorist.
The death toll since January 20 now stands at over 260, including around 180 ISIS terrorists, 73 members of Kurdish-led forces and seven civilians, according to the Observatory.
The terrorists that remain inside the facility have barricaded themselves in “cellars that are difficult to target with air strikes or infiltrate on the ground,” the Observatory said.
Kurdish forces “are looking to starve jihadists into surrendering,” said Observatory head Rami Abdul Rahman, adding that those holding out were diehard ISIS followers.
An SDF official said around 60 ISIS fighters were holed up in a basement and a ground floor above it.
“We believe there are no minors among them,” he told AFP on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment on the issue.
The terrorists have been given a deadline to surrender and if no progress is made they will be dealt with “firmly,” he said, without specifying a time frame.
The Ghwayran jail assault was the most high-profile ISIS attack since the terrorist group lost their “caliphate” nearly three years ago.
According to the SDF, around 3,500 inmates and ISIS attackers have surrendered to its forces since the start of operations to recapture the prison.