Hundreds of civilians have been arrested in Dara’a province and 11 civilians serving on local councils and former fighters have been killed or attacked there since the Assad regime retook the area, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The UN human rights office said that between July 26, 2018, and March 31, at least 380 people were arrested or detained in Dara’a province alone.
Spokeswoman Marta Hurtado told a news briefing that the reasons for the arrests were unclear, and that little or no information is given to the families, adding that some arrests were said to be linked to suspicion of “terrorism.”
About 150 were released after a few days, but at least 230 have disappeared into custody, she said.
The report by the UN indicated that at least 11 civilians serving on local councils, NGOs, and former FSA fighters have been killed or attacked in Dara’a province since the Assad regime retook the area. It also said that the 11 cases included fatal drive-by shootings and attempted murders.
“Lack of due process, arbitrary arrests, and harassment, even in so-called reconciled areas, speak louder than empty government promises of return, reform, and reconciliation,” Lama Fakih, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The Assad regime launched a large-scale arrest campaign in the countryside of Dara’a earlier this month, targeting mainly civilians. Local activists said that the Assad regime continues to violate conventions sponsored by international parties and commit violations against civilians.
The Deaths Documentation Center in Dara’a province said that the Assad regime detained no fewer than 312 people in Dara’a province in the period between July 2018 and mid-February 2019. It noted that the detainees included 132 former FSA fighters, including 26 former commanders who were killed under torture.
Many former FSA fighters in Dara’a who reconciled with the Assad regime were killed by unknown assailants. The Assad regime carries out frequent arbitrary arrests of civilians as well as former elements and leaders of the FSA groups under various pretexts. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)