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SYRIA: rebels break open prison in Aleppo

Friday, 7 February 2014 - 8:57am IST | Place: Syria | Agency: Daily Telegraph
Syrian rebels have breached part of Aleppo's central prison, releasing several hundred inmates in a bloody skirmish with regime troops, activists reported yesterday (Thursday).
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Syrian rebels have breached part of Aleppo's central prison, releasing several hundred inmates in a bloody skirmish with regime troops, activists reported yesterday (Thursday).

The prison, which the rebels have had under siege for almost a year, has become a Syrian army base but still has up to 4,000 prisoners languishing in its cells, disease-riven and starving.

Up to 300 prisoners were released in the operation, led by Jabhat al-Nusra, a group affiliated with al-Qaeda, and Ahrar al-Sham, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The rebels were forced to fall back when regime troops counter-attacked, dropping barrels filled with TNT from helicopters, activists in Aleppo said. The counter-attack reportedly killed the Nusra commander, who went by the name Saif Allah. Photographs of his body on a stretcher circulated on Twitter.

Yesterday's attack began when a bomber from Nusra blew himself up at the gates. Rebel fighters swarmed in, fighting corridor by corridor to take over much of the compound.

Families and friends of prisoners waited anxiously for news, afraid that the fighting might kill their loved ones, but hopeful that this was also their chance to be released. "I have four nurses imprisoned there," said a doctor in an opposition-held part of Aleppo. "Their crime was caring for patients in field hospitals in Aleppo."




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