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Christians among those detained by Islamist group in Syria

by Chantalle Edmunds
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There are reports five men, at least two of whom are Christians, have been detained by the Islamist militia in Syria.

CSW has learned that the self-named Syrian National Army detained the men in the town of Rass Al-Ein, near Hassaka in Northeast Syria, last week during dinner, held in a home in Dwera village.

According to reports, a force belonging to the "Sultan Shah Brigade" stormed the house, taking Christian, Naeem Malki, a prominent local activist who took part in the pro-democracy uprising of 2011 along with his uncle.

The men were beaten and accused of gambling before being taken to the police station in Rass Al-Ein for interrogation. 

This happened after one of the Islamist militia discovered the identity document of a person belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia protecting the Self-Administration of North and Northeast Syria, which opposes Turkey's presence in the country. The men have remained in detention since that time.

Mina, CSW's Middle East Advocacy Officer, told Premier it is unclear what will happen to the men:

"Well, anything could happen because we are talking about basically criminal groups, extremist groups very corrupt, so anything could happen. They could simply disappear or die under torture, or they could spend some time in prison until their release is negotiated, ransom is paid, or sort of prisoner exchange. Anything could happen."

"We as an organization, we advocate for freedom for all, not only Christians but for everybody. And we believe that a political solution, a sustainable political solution in Syria, should be the way forward, a new democratic regime that would guarantee equal rights and equal citizenship for all citizens, regardless of their race, or religion or sect, or class should be the way forward, and that's what the international community should be pressing for."

CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas added in a statement: "CSW continues to call on the Turkish authorities to ensure international humanitarian and human rights law are respected in areas under their control in northern Syria. 

"The international community, and specifically the EU for which Turkey has been a long-term candidate, must urge Turkey to restrain the various Islamist militia groups functioning under its command and to seek an end to armed conflict and human rights violations in the region. As Syria enters the 10th year of a devastating civil war, we concur with the UN Special Envoy's recent contention that the international community, Security Council and international system have failed Syrian civilians, and urge all parties to galvanise efforts towards the conclusion of an inclusive constitution, national reconciliation, the return of occupied territory, and peace with justice."

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