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U.S.-backed forces in Syria retake ISIS prison days after inmate takeover

By Doug Cunningham
U.S.-backed forces in Syria retake ISIS prison days after inmate takeover
U.S.-backed Syrian troops take up position at Ghweran prison in Hasaka, Syria, last Friday after the facility was overtaken by Islamic State militants who were locked up there. Officials said Syrian forces regained control of the prison on Wednesday. Photo by Ahmed Mardnli/EPA-EFE

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- U.S.-backed forces in Syria have regained control of a prison in the country's northeast that's been used to hold Islamic State militants, officials said Wednesday -- ending a standoff that lasted for days.

The inmate takeover at Ghwaryan prison in Hasakah began last Thursday when a car bomb started a riot and prisoners were able to overpower their guards.

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After days of fighting, the Syrian Democratic Forces said efforts to retake the facility caused significant damage to its north wing, where approximately 700 minors were held.

Syrian forces announced the victory in what it called "Operation People's Hammer." The fight for the prison, which holds about 3,000 IS militants, even drew U.S. ground troops into the battle.

The U.S.-led coalition in Syria used airstrikes to support ground troops to retake the prison. Some of the strikes damaged the prison itself.

Senior Kurdish and coalition officials have warned for years that the prison is vulnerable to attack. About 400 inmates have been moved from the prison, officials said.

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