Syrian protesters storm prison run by al-Qaeda affiliate
Syrian protesters on Monday stormed a makeshift prison in the Idlib town of Maarat al-Numan, north of Syrian, operated by the local al-Qaeda franchise al-Nusra Front, freeing detainees held at the facility.
Local activist Ibrahim al-Idlibi told The New Arab that residents stormed a building used by al-Nusra, which contained a prison and set fire to the facility after freeing a number of Division 13 fighters who had been detained.
Al-Nusra Front on Friday had seized a number of bases from the US-trained Free Syrian Army's (FSA) Division 13 in Maarat al-Numan, looting US weapons in the process including TOW anti-tank missiles.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said al-Nusra also seized armored vehicles, a tank, and other arms in Friday's raid. It is believed they also took 40 FSA prisoners.
Last week, al-Nusra fighters in Idlib also threatened to shoot protesters, as a wave secular demonstrations surged through rebel territories.
Nusra fighters stormed an anti-regime protest in Idlib province, beating protesters, smashing cameras and destroying the green-black-white pre-Baathist Syrian flag.
The al-Qaeda affiliate warned protesters the next time they demonstrated that crowds would be dispersed with bullets.
Hundreds of spontaneous anti-regime protests spread across the Syrian rebel territories - from Aleppo to Daraa - since a ceasefire came into force.
In some cases, they also rejected extremism and are thought to be generally sympathetic towards the Free Syrian Army groups.
Observers fear that al-Nusra might be planning to take control of Idlib in a repeat to the Raqqa scenario, when the Islamic State group (IS) took control and declared an "Islamic state" nearly two years ago.