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FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
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Syria troops 'retake most of Aleppo prison' from rebels
Agence France Presse
A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares to fire mortar shells in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Saad Abobrahim
A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares to fire mortar shells in Aleppo's Karm al-Jabal district February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Saad Abobrahim
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BEIRUT: Syrian troops retook Friday most of Aleppo's prison, lost to rebels a day earlier, in fighting that has killed at least 46 people over two days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

But the fate of hundreds of prisoners reportedly freed after Islamist and jihadist fighters overran the facility was unclear, with suggestions that they may not have been able to flee amid the fighting.

The Observatory also said regime aircraft continued their assault on rebel-held districts of the northern city with barrel bombs, which have killed at least 250 people since Saturday, including 73 children.

Clashes in part of the jail and on its perimeter resumed between government forces and fighters of Ahrar Al-Sham Brigade and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra front, the Britain-based watchdog said.

The 46 dead over two days were 20 soldiers, 21 rebels and five prisoners.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP Thursday that the rebel assault began with a suicide attack by an Al-Nusra fighter at the prison's main entrance, opening the way to an assault on the facility.

He said the fighters had taken control of 80 percent of the jail and freed hundreds of prisoners.

Ahrar al-Sham said opposition fighters had taken full control of the prison, as did the Aleppo Media Centre, a citizen-journalist outlet.

But state television said soldiers and security forces had thwarted the attack.

For months, rebels have launched attacks on the prison, which reportedly holds some 3,000 detainees, including Islamists, activists and minors. But they have always failed to seize full control.

Conditions inside are said to be dire, with the Observatory reporting outbreaks of tuberculosis and other diseases.

The conditions prompted the government to announce in December the release of 366 prisoners for "humanitarian reasons".

In addition to the attacks on Aleppo, the Observatory said army helicopters were also dropping barrel bombs in parts of Idlib, Hama and Daraya provinces.

The nearly three-year civil war is estimated to have killed more than 136,000 people.

 
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Story Summary
Syrian troops retook Friday most of Aleppo's prison, lost to rebels a day earlier, in fighting that has killed at least 46 people over two days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The 46 dead over two days were 20 soldiers, 21 rebels and five prisoners.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP Thursday that the rebel assault began with a suicide attack by an Al-Nusra fighter at the prison's main entrance, opening the way to an assault on the facility.

He said the fighters had taken control of 80 percent of the jail and freed hundreds of prisoners.
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