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Syria's 'secret jails' cataloging horrific cases of human abuses

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"A shocking catalog of abuses" are occurring in secret jails across northern Syria, sources say Many of the atrocities include torture, flogging and executions after summary trials, Amnesty International says. One of the most powerful jihadi groups is reported to be operating seven clandestine prisons in rebel-held areas.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amnesty International says in a recent report that the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, is holding detainees for reasons ranging from suspected theft - to offenses against Islam - such as smoking or sex outside marriage. Others unarmed civilians are seized simply for challenging ISIL authority.

In one such ISIL prison on the Euphrates river in Aleppo province, the local Sharia court judge appears wearing an explosives belt and issues verdicts after hearings lasting no more than a few minutes, former detainees have been quoted as saying. On at least one occasion, the judge was reported to have joined in the flogging of a prisoner after sentencing him.

Amnesty said several children had received severe floggings. A father at one point had to listen to his son's screams in a nearby room. Two detainees said they witnessed a child of about 14 receive 90 lashes at a Raqqa prison.

"Those abducted and detained by ISIL include children as young as eight who are held together with adults in the same cruel and inhuman conditions," Philip Luther, Amnesty's Director for the Middle East and North Africa says.

Government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad are guilty for many of the worst atrocities, according to the United Nations.

Amnesty International, along with the U.N, are urging world powers to halt the flow of arms to ISIL and other armed groups. Turkey, in particular should prevent jihadi fighters and weapons crossing its border into northern Syria, they say.

It works for the other side as well. Anti-government forces, fighting against Assad are also taking the law into their own hands, and are participating in many similar crimes against humanity. As a result, Amnesty International is also asking the Gulf Arab states, who back the anti-Assad rebels to also cut off flows of arms and equipment.

The presence of ISIL as well as other hard-line rebel groups has eclipsed more moderate, Western-backed rebels, fracturing the military campaign against Assad and prompting Western alarm that al Qaeda is building a stronghold in northern Syria.

Militant Islamist groups are rejecting next month's planned peace conference in Switzerland that is due to bring Assad's government and his opponents to the negotiating table for the first time since the conflict erupted in 2011.



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