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Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Syria activists: Despite truce, strikes near Damascus kill 8

AP , Tuesday 25 Jul 2017
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Airstrikes in a Damascus suburb have killed eight people, including children, the area's first casualties since Russia said three days ago that it reached an agreement with the Syrian opposition on the boundaries for a de-escalation zone in the capital's eastern suburbs, opposition activists and a paramedic group said Tuesday.

The airstrikes on Arbeen, just before midnight Monday, also caused material damage. Residents in Damascus said insurgent groups fired several shells an hour later that fell near the Russian embassy in Damascus with no reports of casualties.

The Syrian Civil Defense group, more popularly known as the White Helmets, and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say the airstrikes on Arbeen killed eight and wounded dozens. The White Helmets said the eight killed included five children and two women.

 Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian Military General Staff had said earlier that Moscow deployed military police to monitor the cease-fire in a safe zone in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

In neighboring Lebanon, two international human rights groups called on Lebanese authorities to disclose their findings into the fate of four Syrian refugees who died while in custody of the Lebanese army.

The four were detained in a sweeping security raid late last month in refugee settlements in and around the border town of Arsal that netted 355 Syrians. The town and its surrounding area was the scene of a major cross-border attack in 2014, when more than two dozen Lebanese soldiers were abducted.

A Lebanese military probe aired on state-run media on Monday said the four died of natural causes.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for the full findings to be released.

Amnesty said forensic analysis of photographs showing the bodies of three of the four deceased men, commissioned by the organization, reveals signs of recent beatings and trauma to the head, legs and arms, suggesting they may have been tortured.

"It extremely important for the full findings of the forensic report commissioned by the military prosecutor to be made public and accessible to the lawyers and families of the victims," said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

"If torture is deemed the cause of death, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) must take the necessary steps to bring those responsible to justice, in a fair trial," she said.

HRW said leaking a short summary of the doctors' report does not address the findings.

"Photos of the bodies showed marks consistent with torture," said Nadim Houry, terrorism and counterterrorism terrorism director at Human Rights Watch. "The Lebanese military should make public the full results of its investigation."

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