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The War Inside The Aleppo Central Prison

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Research Credit to @YallaSouria

For months the Free Syrian Army and the al-Nusra Front (Syria's sanctioned al-Qaeda group) have been fighting the regime to free prisoners held by the regime in the Aleppo Central Prison. It is estimated there are approximately 4000 prisoners there.

On February 6th, al-Nusra successfully detonated what was said to be 20 tons of explosives loaded in a truck. It breached the Prison's main door.

After the big blast, the fight to free the prisoners moved inside. The fight for the prison has also ebbed and flowed. The Opposition Rebels have essentially held the prison through May 21st, when Regime forces broke through FSA blockades and took control of major segments of the prison.

According to Aleppo Media Center, over the past 3 days there have been many hit and run fights between rebels and regime forces in an effort to gain control of the prison. The regime was able to gain control of some strategic spots in the Central Prison's neighbouring areas, including Talat Hilan, Talat Al Kahraba, and Al Senaa Arch. Despite losing about 50 men from their ranks, the regime was able to prevail, by using air power.

The deciding action that managed to win the battle of the wills for the regime was a "copy cat" stunt. In the style of the Islamic Front, the regime forces dug a tunnel under the prison wall, entered the Central Prison and then announced they had broken the 13 month siege.

In the meantime, rebels announced that fights are continuing and they deny the regime has total control of the area. According to @YallaSouria, the main reasons the regime forces were able to advance is due to an arms shortage on the rebels' side. They lack Anti Tank missiles, adding to the difficulty of retaliating against ongoing aerial attacks on the neighbouring areas with TNT barrel bombs and missiles.

At least seven detainees have been killed and 10 others have been wounded during this latest fight for the Prison. Additionally, according to the Aleppo Media Center, with the continuing battles around the outskirts of the prison, the Syrian Red Crescent was unable to deliver food and medical assistance to the prisoners.

AleppoCentralPrisonMen05212014
Male prisoners in Aleppo Central Prison are interviewed by Syrian News.
Shadi Helwe

The Syrian Newsdesk website, an Assad favored website, claims the scrimmages with rebels are the direct cause of the declining condition of prisoners including the spread of disease. It has been reported by activists that the declining health of prisoners is that when the Syrian Red Crescent delivers meals, the Prison Guards and Syrian Army take the meals.

The most revealing thing that has surfaced from the Syrian Army move on the Aleppo Prison is the further substantiation that the Assad regime cannot be believed. Assad has said over and over that the Regime does not hold women or children as prisoners. However, once again Assad has been caught lying about his own schemes, thanks to photographs by his own Shabiha. In the photo below, taken by Shadi Helwe, a paid Assad Shabiha, you see behind bars at least four women and one small child. They are locked in a poorly lit, filthy dirty cell. They are certainly not there as guests.

AleppoCentralPrisonWomenandChild
Regime holds Aleppo Central Prison and Regime Shabiha releases photos of prisoners including this cell with women and a child.

Editor's note: Shabiha: defined as paid thug, loyalist.

The US Armed Forces Committee added a FY2015 budget item to fully arm vetted rebel forces. However, as Secretary Kerry recently said this is at least a year late, because+ the US and other international countries were "wasting time" trying to reason with the sociopsychopath Assad and his imported army of thugs.

The back and forth military maneuvering for Aleppo Prison is interesting, but what is outrageous is the photos that the regime's Shabiha photographer released on the web after they entered the prison. One photo shows what appears to be prisoners happy to see the regime soldiers, as they reach out for them as if they are some kind of saviors.

Kimberly Jones is a global nomad who writes about international issues, however, she has a special interest in Middle East and North Africa affairs. Read more stories by Kimberly Jones.

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