Syria's al-Nusra releases three US-trained rebels

Syria's al-Nusra releases three US-trained rebels
Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, on Monday released the last three US-trained Division 13 rebels it was holding, after capturing them during clashes in Idlib over a month ago.
2 min read
12 April, 2016
Al-Nusra last month detained a number of Division 13 fighters [AFP]
Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra Front, on Monday released the final three detainees from the Free Syrian Army's US-trained Division 13 who were detained by the group following clashes in Maaret al-Numan, south of Idlib, over a month ago.

Local media activist Jaber Abu Mohammad told The New Arab that those released included Zaher al-Ahmad, a commander in Division 13.

"All the Division 13 detainees have now been freed with the release of these three," Abu Mohammad added.

Al-Nusra Front had last month seized a number of bases from 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 addition to taking a number of FSA prisoners.

Division 13 has made several pleas for the release of its fighters, while families of the detained men organised several protests in front of al-Nusra sites in Idlib's countryside.

Tensions between al-Nusra and the FSA in Idlib have escalated following the Russian military withdrawal and the protests against the regime that took place after the declaration of a ceasefire.

Al-Nusra affiliates have made repeated attempts to clear demonstrations, accusing protesters of spreading "secular concepts" such as democracy and music.

Meanwhile, 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.