Dubai: Human rights groups working in Syria say at least 28,000 people have disappeared after being abducted by soldiers or militia. They say they have the names of 18,000 people missing since anti-government protests began 18 months ago and know of another 10,000 cases, BBC reported Thursday.
Online activist group Avaaz says “nobody is safe” from a deliberate government campaign of terror. It intends to give the UN Human Rights Council a dossier for investigation.
Avaaz has gathered testimony from Syrians who says people have been forcibly abducted by pro-government forces, the report said.
Alice Jay, campaign director at Avaaz, said Syrians are being “plucked off the street by security forces and paramilitary forces and have ‘disappeared’ into torture cells”.
Meanwhile, international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is trying to secure a truce in Syria for Eid Al Adha, will arrive in Damascus on Saturday, the foreign ministry said.
“Brahimi will meet with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Saturday morning,” ministry spokesman Jihad Maqdisi told AFP.
On ground, regime warplanes launched a new wave of strikes on Thursday on the northwestern town of Maaret Al Numan, seized by rebels last week, an AFP correspondent reported.
Fighter jets began flying and bombarding Maaret Al Numan, located on the main Damascus-Aleppo highway, in the early hours of the morning, targeting the strategic town and its periphery.
Anti-regime forces, who overran Maaret Al Numan on October 9 as they pushed to create a buffer zone along the border with Turkey, attempted to shoot down the aircraft with heavy machinegun fire, but without any success.
The bombing raids were punctuated by artillery and occasional rocket fire across the town, although these were less intense than witnessed over the past week.
Overnight, sporadic gunfire was also heard, including around a major military base at Wadi Deif, where the insurgents kept up a siege of about 250 troops holed up inside.
On Wednesday, rebels downed a helicopter gunship in Maarhtat, on the outskirts of Maaret Al Numan, according to both the insurgents and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
And the Observatory said that on Thursday fighter jets bombed Maarhtat and Bsida, where a helicopter crashed the day before.
Nearby, the fighters of the rebel Free Syrian Army and militants of Al Nusra Front targeted the Wadi Daif base, said the Britain-based monitoring group.
In Aleppo the military pounded rebel-held neighbourhoods of Shaar and Sukkari as well as two nearby villages.
In the central province of Homs, the military bombed the town of Qusayr, another opposition stronghold which government troops have besieged for several days, said the Observatory.
Bombings killed three children, including one whose head was blown off, in the central town of Houla, near to a village where at least 108 people died a massacre in May, most of them women and children.
Nine bodies were found in the Yarmuk neighbourhood of the capital Damascus, the Observatory added, without identifying them.