Pentagon confirms ground support in effort to regain Ghweiran prison

Photo: Dec. 23, 2018. Sgt. Arjenis Nunez

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SULAIMANI — The Pentagon confirmed on Monday (January 24) US ground forces have joined Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their fight to regain control of al-Sinaa prison in Hasaka, where thousands of Islamic State (ISIS) militants are held.

The Pentagon said the coalition was backing the SDF in armored Bradley fighting vehicles and was providing "limited ground support.”

The US conducted air strikes over the past four days with Apache helicopters in support of the SDF and Internal Security Forces’ (ISF) battle to quell the prison break, which began on Thursday when sleeper cells in the area carried out three explosions in the vicinity of the prison in Hasaka’s Ghweiran neighborhood.

The fight to prevent a mass break-out is the largest US engagement with ISIS since the defeat of its so-called caliphate in 2019, according to the New York Times.

UNICEF warned on Sunday there were nearly 850 juvenile inmates at risk in the prison. Other estimates put the figure at 700.

Farhad Shami, the head of the SDF media center, said they had received some reports ISIS was threatening to kill the juvenile inmates if attacks continued, the New York Times reported.

Save the Children said they had received audio reports that minors had been injured and killed during clashes in the prison, including a 17-year-old Australian who said he was wounded in an airstrike.

The SDF media center issued an announcement last night calling on ISIS members to surrender, stating they were "completely surrounded” and there was "no way out.”

(NRT Digital Media)