Syria Rights Group: Dozens ‘Arbitrarily’ Detained in Banias

Posted September 25th, 2012 at 3:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A Syrian human rights group says security forces have arrested at least 68 people, including three children, over the past few days in and around the coastal city of Banias.

Mataz Suheil of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA Tuesday the “arbitrary detentions” of 25 women, three children and at least 40 men are believed to be in response to the kidnapping of a senior Syrian officer three days earlier.

Suheil says none of those detained has been charged with a crime, and he believes the detentions have been made to “basically blackmail” rebel fighters or activists to turn themselves in to authorities. He called on the U.N. General Assembly to take action this week to help broker a cease-fire to end the unrest.

“Without the cease-fire, all we see is an escalation of the conflict and a furthering away of any goals of an uprising or any attempt to better the humanitarian situation for ordinary civilians.

He called on international leaders to put aside politics when working toward a solution for Syria.

“What we'd really like to see from the international community is a consensus to see an end to the conflict – an attempt to get a consensus on a cease-fire by all sides. We'd like to see a unified General Assembly that does not try to go for political gains or narrow sovereign interests of Russia, for example, or China or the U.S. or Britain.”

Satellite images released Tuesday show the scope of Syrian military activity in neighborhoods of the besieged commercial center, Aleppo. A major U.S. science association says an analysis of high resolution images of Aleppo reveals that heavily armored vehicles were deployed in civilian neighborhoods during last month's fighting.

Battles between Syrian government forces and rebels continue in and around Syria's most populous city, which also faces government bombardment.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science said Tuesday that the new images were taken August 9 and 23. They show tanks and armored vehicles and more than 100 damaged buildings after a military push to take the city.

Syria limits outside reporting. The images confirm reports from citizens and rebel groups of a government siege on Aleppo neighborhoods.

The report comes as the aid group Save the Children is warning about the effects of the conflict in Syria on the nation's children. The group says children have been the target of attacks and have witnessed the deaths of family members.

The head of the organization says “appalling acts of violence” are being committed against Syrian children, and that they need special care to help them recover.

“They're telling us of their school being bombed or tanks knocking down their houses. They're telling us of relatives that have been killed by the army, of breaking into the house in the middle of the night, of watching their brother or sister or father being shot. They're even telling us of children being tortured in prison; little children of only 10 years old having their fingernails pulled out, even their fingers cut off. This is appalling, and it has to stop now.''

The group also is calling on the United Nations to better document rights violations against children.

World leaders speaking at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday are calling for an end to the 18-month conflict in Syria.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that the world must “stop the violence and flows of arms to both sides, and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible.”