Damascus: A Syrian opposition group tolerated by the government said on Friday that it had lost contact with two of its members who were returning from Damascus airport after a trip to China.
The two members of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change — Dr Abdul Aziz Al Khayer, head of its foreign relations office and Eyas Ayash, member of its executive committee member and leader of the Arab Socialist Movement -— had been met at the airport by a third member, Maher Tahan.
“They left Damascus International Airport at 5pm (1400 GMT) on Thursday in two cars, only one of which arrived at its intended destination. We have since lost communications with the other car,” a statement said.
Khayer, Ayash and three other NCC members had been in China from September 16 for talks on ending the 18-month conflict in Syria and moving towards a Syrian-led political transition.
“Any harm inflicted upon our colleagues, regardless of the party responsible, would be a wrongdoing inflicted upon Syria, its reputation and its unity. In this terrible time of crisis, Syria needs these leading figures more than ever,” the NCC said.
The group said it held whoever seized the pair “ethically, legally, and politically responsible for any physical or mental harm done” to them.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Al Khayer, Ayash and Tahan had all been kidnapped and said it held the Syrian authorities responsible for their well-being and release.
The Observatory noted that Khayer was imprisoned in February 1992 during the rule of Al Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez, on charges of ties to the Communist Workers’ Party.
He was released at the end of 2005.
Last week, Syria’s main exiled opposition group, the Syrian National Council, agreed to expand to include more groups opposing Assad, but not the NCC, which favours a non-violent overthrow of the regime and opposes foreign military intervention.
Meanwhile, an activist group reported overnight that Dr Tareq Rajaa Al Nasser, the son of NCC secretary Rajaa Al Nasser, was killed in shelling in in the northern province of Aleppo.
The Local Coordination Committees, a network of opposition activists on the ground, said he had been treating people wounded by bombing in the town of Aazaz, near the Turkish border.