ISIS using 700 captive children as human shields in northeast Syrian prison, SDF says

UNICEF stated that fighting inside the al-Sina'a prison "has put at serious risk the safety of nearly 850 children who are in detention. Some are as young as 12 years old."
Children of ISIS families in al-Hol (Photo: AFP)
Children of ISIS families in al-Hol (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Sunday that ISIS has been using 700 children affiliated with the terror group as human shields amid intense clashes in and outside a prison facility in the Kurdish-controlled city of Hasakah.

According to the SDF, although some ISIS detainees still control a part of Hasakah's al-Sina'a prison—which holds nearly 3,500 terrorist suspects—members of the terrorist organization are unable to escape the facility.

However, the terrorist suspects inside the prison have been using as human shields 700 children who reside in a designated minors' ward for rehabilitation, hampering SDF efforts to regain complete control over the facility as deadly fighting continues.

Read More: SDF kills 13 ISIS fighters in renewed fighting in Hasakah

The SDF noted that it would "hold the terrorists accountable" if the minors were hurt and condemned the exploitation of the children and demanded they be handed over.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in a statement on Sunday, also called for the release of the captive minors and stated further that "foreign children" should be taken back by "their home countries."

The agency added that the fighting inside the prison "has put at serious risk the safety of nearly 850 children who are in detention. Some are as young as 12 years old. According to reports, more than 100 people were killed, and thousands were displaced in the ongoing violence."

"UNICEF calls on all parties in the northeast and elsewhere in Syria to keep children out of harm's way and protect them at all times. We call once again on all member states involved to take urgent action and responsibility in the best interests of children and bring them and their mothers back to their country of origin."

The large-scale attack on the northeast Syrian prison came around the same time as a separate, deadly ISIS attack in Iraq's Diyala province, where members of the terrorist organization wiped out an entire unit of soldiers at an army outpost.

Related Article: Turkish-backed forces continue to attack SDF forces amidst ISIS attacks: SOHR

As the SDF increased its focus in Hasakah to prevent ISIS prisoners from escaping, Turkish-backed militants continued to attack areas the Kurdish-led forces control in northern and northeastern Syria.