ISIS fighters have escaped a Kurdish-run prison in a violent jailbreak in Hasakah, northeastern Syria.
An unknown number of Islamist extremists broke out of the prison in a series of brutal assaults after ISIS militants attacked Ghuwayran prison — which holds 3,500 suspected jihadists — with a car bomb.
40 ISIS members and 18 Kurdish prison guards have died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The number of escapees could be in the hundreds.
Inmates, who were reportedly burning plastic and mattress in their cells to cause panic, rioted and managed to get weapons off prison guards after fighting them on Thursday.
Syrian Democratic Forces, the US-backed Kurdish-led group, reported that “the mass escape attempt” was “thwarted” in a statement on Friday.
It added that it had "arrested 89 mercenaries who tried to escape the prison".
Still, the ISIS fighters and security forces continued to clash in the al-Zohour neighbourhood around the jail complex throughout Friday.
The US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria held around 12,000 ISIS suspects after the jihadi group was defeated in 2019, with more than 50 different nationalities among the inmates. These include citizens of European countries whose governments are reluctant to repatriate their nationals in case of a public backlash.
The remaining ISIS militants went underground after their so-called caliphate was defeated. They now hide in sleeper cells and use secret bases in the Syrian desert and Harmin mountains in Iraq to carry out attacks.
In Iraq, ISIS members killed 11 Iraqi soldiers at a military base in Diyala on Friday, including an officer. The group claimed responsibility in a statement published on its Telegram channels.