- uploaded: Jan 7, 2014
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The so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) has laid siege to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Clashes between the FSA militants and ISIL erupted in Raqqa overnight and the fighting continued on Monday, said Rami Abdurrahman, the director of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another activist group, the so-called Local Coordinating Committees, also confirmed the skirmishes in Raqqa, a long-time bastion of the ISIL, saying they were focused around a city post office. The Observatory added that the militants surrounded ISIL's chief compound in Raqqa and freed at least 50 prisoners from a nearby jail. According to Abdurrahman, the released detainees included foreign-backed militants from other groups and activists. The Observatory also reported infighting in the nearby town of Tal Abyad. Raqqa has been the only city to have fallen out of the hands of Syrian government troops since the conflict broke out in Syria nearly three years ago. It was captured by ISIL last year, which is said to be holding hundreds of prisoners in its headquarters. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since March 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria. According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the violence.