Al-Nusra Front frees 7 US-backed rebels in Syria

58 said killed in regime attack on market in rebel-held area of Damascus

Al-Nusra Front fighters in Syria (YouTube screen capture/al-Jazeera)
Al-Nusra Front fighters in Syria (YouTube screen capture/al-Jazeera)

Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria has released seven members of a US-backed rebel faction that it abducted late last month, the rebel group said in a statement.

The Division 30 rebel group said in a statement late Saturday that it hopes the Nusra Front will release the group’s commander, who has been held since July 30. Days after the abduction, the Nusra Front attacked the Division 30 command in northern Syria, leading to the near-collapse of the group, which has dozens of fighters.

The kidnapping and attack on Division 30, came a few days after the US and Turkey announced the outlines of a deal to help rebels push IS back from a strip of territory it controls along the Syrian-Turkish border, replacing it with more moderate rebels backed by Washington and Ankara.

The Nusra Front said at the time it abducted the rebels because they were trained by the US

The Division 30 statement described Nusra Front fighters as “brothers” and thanked them for the release, saying, “We value this noble step.”

It said Division 30 is on the “same page with all holy warriors in Syria.”

Also Sunday, Syrian government warplanes struck a market in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, killing 58 people and wounding dozens.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees said rescue operations were ongoing in the area.

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