Nearly 60 dead in Russia raids on Qaeda-run Syria jail

Russian warplanes have been conducting air strikes in Syria since September 30 against ISIS

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Russian strikes Saturday on a prison complex run by Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate killed at least 57 people and wounded 30 others, many critically, a monitor said, giving a revised toll.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air raids on an Al-Nusra Front building prison near a popular market in northwestern Idlib province killed 21 civilians, 29 militants and seven detainees.

The building in Maarat al-Numan housed the group’s religious court and a jail.

The Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a large network of sources inside Syria, said a child and two women were among the civilians killed in the strikes.

A statement said that among the militants killed were 23 Nusra fighters.

“The toll from the Russian raids on the Al-Qaeda-run prison has risen to at least 57 killed and 30 wounded, many in critical condition,” said the Observatory which had earlier given a toll of 39 dead.

Russian warplanes have been conducting air strikes against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) organisation and “other terrorist groups” in Syria since September 30.

Although Al-Nusra and ISIS are both militants organisations, they are fierce rivals and regularly clash in Syria.

Al-Nusra also has tense relationships with non-jihadist rebel groups that oppose its extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

In Idlib, it has formed an alliance with rebel groups, including hardline faction Ahrar al-Sham.

The Army of Conquest coalition has expelled regime forces from Idlib province.

Syria’s conflict first erupted with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011 but expanded into a war that has left more than 260,000 people dead.