Syria war: Rebels capture strategic Aleppo village

Fighters led by the al-Nusra Front capture village of Khan Touman, opening up key supply line to rebel areas of Aleppo.

    Syrian rebels have captured a strategic village outside of Aleppo that could open up new supply routes for rebel-held areas of the city.

    Fighters led by the al-Nusra Front took control of Khan Touman to the south of Aleppo on Friday, shortly before a 48-hour truce in the city was due to come to an end.

    The capture opens up an alternate supply route to rebel-held areas of the city, connecting it to areas of Idlib that are also opposition controlled.

    Syrian government forces have been trying to encircle rebels in the city by cutting them off from supply routes in the north.

    Sources told Al Jazeera that groups involved in the attack included Ahrar al-Sham, Ajnad al-Sham, and other factions under the command of the Army of Conquest.

    British-based activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said more than 73 people had died in clashes in Khan Touman and surrounding villages, which included at least one al-Nusra suicide bomber. 

    The group put the number of government dead at 30 and rebels killed at 43, with dozens of wounded on both sides.

    The rebel capture of Khan Touman opens up new supply routes for opposition-held areas of Aleppo [Al Jazeera]

     [Al Jazeera]

    Hama prison siege

    The rebel advances in Aleppo came as Syrian government forces launched an assault on a prison they had placed under siege in the city of Hama.

    Syrian security forces surrounded the complex after an uprising led to the capture of several guards by the prisoners.

    An Al Jazeera correspondent said hundreds of security forces had used live ammunition and tear gas during the raid, which left two inmates critically injured and dozens more wounded.

    The prison is home to about 650 people, many of them political opponents of the government, with a further 85 prisoners on death row.

    A prisoner inside the building who spoke to Al Jazeera called for international aid agencies to provide help immediately.

    "We call on the Red Cross to help, the Red Crescent teams being sent to the jail are regime intelligence officers, they are not Red Crescent, they are intelligence officers," the inmate said, warning a massacre was imminent.

    Video posted on social media showed prisoners suffering from breathing difficulties after inhaling tear gas.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from the Turkish city of Gaziantep, said security forces were unsuccessful in their attempt to regain control of the building and the standoff was ongoing.

    "This revolt began a few days ago ... they [prisoners] heard some of them would be transferred to another jail north of Damascus, known for extrajudicial killing," Khodr said.

    "We're also getting reports that government security forces arrested family members of the prisoners who were outside the building and were concerned about their loved ones.

    "They want to use them to pressure the inmates to give up."

    The Syrian government holds tens of thousands of political prisoners according to Humans Rights Watch. Thousands have been killed in "industrial-scale" killing , according to a report by a team of international prosecutors.

    With additional reporting by  Zouhir Al Shimale  in Aleppo

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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