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Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorists torturing opponents in northwestern Syria: HRW

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Militants of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group and their family members arrive in a militant-held area of the al-Eis crossing in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, after they were evacuated from the Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus, Syria, on May 1, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Human Rights Watch has accused the al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist group of using “torture” against those opposing its rule in Syria’s militant-held northwestern province of Idlib.

The New York-based rights group said on Monday that it had documented 11 cases in which HTS, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits, largely composed of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, “detained Idlib residents, apparently because of their peaceful work documenting abuses or protesting the group's rule.”

“Six of those detained were apparently tortured,” including a 16-year-old boy, it said in a statement.

“One man described being hung from a pole upside down for hours during interrogation,” it added.

Another detainee said he was locked up in something similar to a coffin for three hours, while a third said he was pushed through a tire and beaten incessantly.

“The maximum you can do is to move your shoulders a bit. And scream for help. But on several occasions, they stuffed things in my mouth so I can't scream. I used to lose my consciousness a lot,” the captive told HRW.

Seven of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were media activists or journalists, who had taken part in or covered protest rallies against HTS, or were working with foreign media outlets.

Four were forced to sign a document, pledging they would no longer film or report on the militants.

HRW then demanded the immediate release of all unlawfully held prisoners, including four still being held or missing among the 11 cases documented.

“There is no legitimate excuse for rounding up opponents and arbitrarily detaining and torturing them,” Lama Fakih, the deputy Middle East director at HRW, said.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

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