Hundreds of children in Geweran prison threatened with death

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has raised concerns about the fate of hundreds of children in Geweran prison in Syria’s north-eastern Al-Hasakah province, which has been held by ISIS militants following six days of clashes with Kurdish-led forces seeking to retake it.

Around 850 children are trapped in the prison fire, while the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are attempting to storm the prison in al-Hasakeh after ISIS fighters took control of it last Thursday, killing dozens, Reuters reported.

UNICEF Regional Director for Media in the Middle East and North Africa Juliette Touma said: “It is very difficult to imagine the atrocities these children are witnessing”, she said, adding that “the lives of these children are in immediate danger”.

UNICEF demanded an immediate halt to the clashes to allow safe passage for the 850 minors, some as young as 12, and it was not possible to verify whether there were any children among the SDF’s death toll.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned of the possibility of a “massacre” if there is no exchange and negotiation, as dozens of ISIS elements are believed to be still hiding inside the prison alongside the guards taken hostage, along with hundreds of children.

Talks are under way to end the confrontation, but a massacre will take place, in which hundreds of people will be killed, if there is no exchange agreement, the Observatory said.

ISIS gunmen are holding around 700 boys, some as young as 12, who were previously transferred to Gwiran prison from the group’s family detention camps for children.

The SDF has accused ISIS of using children as “human shields”. He is extremely concerned for their safety and security.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said: Some of the children of the so-called “cubs of the caliphate” were transported by buses that evacuated ISIS members yesterday, without knowing where they were taken.

Negotiations are under way to free the hostages and SDF prisoners in exchange for treatment of wounded ISIS members at Gwiran prison, the Observatory said.

According to sources, a Syrian ISIS commander was briefed on the progress of treating some of the wounded at field medical points.
Foreign prisoners continue to refuse to surrender and disobey in the dormitories in prison.

The SDF says: The death toll currently stands at around 200 prisoners and 27 of its troops, more than 550 militants have surrendered, clashes are ongoing and militants are still holed up in some buildings.

Gwiran prison houses about 4,000 ISIS men and boys, held by the SDF without charge or trial, and houses civilians who refuse to be conscripted.

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