Idlib Province, Syria — Clashes were ongoing around Idlib central prison on Saturday, hours after Syrian activists said that rebels overran part of the prison and freed at least one hundred prisoners.
The fighting in northwestern Syria began after opposition fighters attacked three checkpoints on the way to the prison. At least ten rebel fighters were reported killed in the clashes, which began on Friday afternoon.
Omar Abu al-Huda, an activist reporting from the battlefield, said that after rebels attacked the prison fence, government fighter jets dropped cluster bombs near the prison and a barrel full of explosives inside the facility, leaving tens of casualties among the prisoners.
Government media sources said army reinforcements have been sent to the prison, as all communications with the facility have been cut off.
The newly-built prison, located three kilometres west of the centre of the Idlib city, contains at least 10,000 prisoners.
"Most of the prisoners are opposition activists and protesters. Many of those who used to be detained on criminal charges were released earlier as a result of the presidential general amnesty,” Milad Fadel, a local journalist, told Al Jazeera.
Rebels control large swathes of land in Idlib province, but Idlib city itself remains under the control of the government.
On Friday, at least 13 fighters were reported killed after they attacked a military checkpoint at al-Shoghour village in the suburbs of Idlib.
Two weeks ago, opposition fighters gained control of Taftanaz military airport, one of the largest airports in Idlib province.