Over 330 killed since IS attacked Syria prison: monitor

Over 330 killed since IS attacked Syria prison: monitor
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Fighting between the Islamic State and the Syrian Democratic Forces has now killed over 330 people.
Islamic State fighter attacked a prison in Hasakeh [Getty]

More than 330 people have been killed in heavy fighting since Islamic State group militants first attacked a prison in northeast Syria, a war monitor said on Sunday.

The IS fighters on 20 January launched their biggest assault in years on the Ghwayran prison in the Kurdish-controlled city of Hasakeh, aiming to free fellow jihadists, and dozens remained holed up inside on Sunday.

The death toll in fierce clashes since then rose to 332 as the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) found over 50 more bodies overnight in prison buildings and nearby areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Britain-based group, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, said that 246 jihadists, 79 Kurdish fighters and seven civilian had been killed so far in the IS assault and battles since.

"The newly discovered bodies were inside and outside the prison," Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Observatory, told AFP

He said the death toll was likely to rise further "because there are dozens of people who are wounded, others who are still missing, and information about more casualties" on both sides.

The SDF announced they had recaptured the prison on Wednesday but intermittent clashes continued until Saturday between Kurdish fighters and jihadists near the jail.

On Saturday, an AFP correspondent saw a truck carrying away piles of bodies from an area near the prison, believed to be those of IS fighters. A bulldozer dumped more bodies onto the truck, which then headed to an unknown location.

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Farhad Shami, who heads the SDF's media office, told AFP that the bodies would be buried in "remote, dedicated areas" under SDF control.

According to the SDF, around 3,500 inmates and IS attackers had surrendered to its forces since operations began to recapture the prison.

But Kurdish officials estimated that between 60 and 90 IS fighters were still holed up in the prison basement and ground floor.

Kurdish forces have repeatedly called for all IS fighters to surrender, while the Observatory said that around 20 of them had turned themselves in on Saturday.