IS prison break in Syria sparks days of clashes
Published3 hours ago
Syrian civil war
kurdish forces take positions in hasaka, 22/1
Fighting has continued in Hasaka since Thursday
Intense fighting is taking place in north-eastern Syria after Islamic State (IS) fighters tried to break inmates out of a Kurdish-run prison.
Kurdish-led forces backed by US air strikes have been battling militants in the city of Hasaka since Thursday.
The assault on Ghwayran prison is one of the group's most ambitious since its defeat in Syria nearly three years ago.
The overcrowded site houses 3,500 suspected IS members including some of its leaders, a monitoring group says.
Hundreds of jihadists have been recaptured since the breakout, but some are still on the run, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Kurdish security forces have surrounded the prison and are fighting for control of nearby neighbourhoods. Residents have been fleeing their homes.
The Syrian Observatory says "at least 77 IS members and 39 Kurdish fighters, including internal security forces, prison guards and counter-terrorism forces, have been killed in violence inside and outside the prison since the start of the attack", in figures quoted by the AFP news agency.
Meanwhile, IS claimed in a video on 22 January that many of its members had been freed in the attack on the prison. The footage also appeared to show the militants holding a number of hostages.
The Pentagon has confirmed the US-led coalition carried out air strikes.
State Department spokesman Ned Price praised the "capable efforts" of the SDF and said IS had been attempting to release militants from the prison for the past year.
Local elders told Reuters news agency that support for IS had grown in the region amid discontent among the Arab population with the Kurdish-led administration, which they accuse of discrimination. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces deny this.
Thousands of IS fighters from more than 50 countries are being held in Kurdish-run prisons in north-eastern Syria.