A group of journalists were allowed on Tuesday evening into the Sina’a prison compound in Haseke, northeast Syria, which was attacked by Islamic State (ISIS) last Thursday, and where a number of armed ISIS militants are still holed up with hostages in some of the buildings.
Journalist Ersin Çaksu said that most of the compound and the vicinity is now under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the three buildings which ISIS militants had managed to take over were surrounded by SDF units.
Çaksu noted that the hostages included some people who worked at the prison, and said that nine prison guards who had taken refuge in a building and fought back during the ISIS attack had recently been rescued in an operation by the SDF.
Çaksu indicated that the ISIS attack on 20 January had started with three vehicles loaded with explosives hitting different target points, and around 200 ISIS militants who had earlier been placed in houses in the surrounding neighbourhoods actively taking part in the attack.
He noted that according to the information provided by the SDF, most of the ISIS militants involved were of foreign nationalities, and had infiltrated into the region through the city of Ras al-Ayn (Serê Kaniyê), currently under Turkish occupation.
He added that some of the weapons seized from the militants during the clashes were of NATO origin, with serial numbers assigned to the Turkish armed forces.
The clashes that followed the attack, both inside the prison compound and in the surrounding neighbourhoods, reportedly left around 200 dead on the ISIS side while more than 30 SDF fighters and over 40 civilians and prison workers were killed.
According to the most recent information provided by SDF, 550 detainees, all suspected ISIS fighters, have surrendered or have been recaptured.
The intensive search operations aimed at capturing ISIS fighters who had gone into hiding in the area continue, and a curfew is in effect in all territories governed by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) until Friday.