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Middle east

Syrian rights group ‘threatened’ by Islamists

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-31

Islamists extremists have sent numerous death threats to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the British-based NGO said on Tuesday as it released a new death toll for the bloody civil conflict.

The rights group is a key source for information about the war pitting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against divided rebel factions, including Islamist militias.

SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the threats – posted on the Observatory’s Facebook page and sent via email – originated from Islamist extremists, but he declined to provide specific names.

“These groups are trying to locate our sources in the regions under their control,” he said. "These sources are being threatened.”

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, SOHR has relied on a network of hundreds of sources, including activists, doctors and lawyers, but also members of the security forces, to give a daily toll in the armed conflict.

Rahman said his group had received threats in the past, but these were the most serious to date.

He said they began after his group published information last week about the deaths of dozens of Islamist rebels, killed by regime fire in an area near Damascus.

Death toll tops 130,000

On Tuesday, SOHR also announced that more than 130,000 people – including 46,266 civilians – have been killed since the beginning of the war nearly three years ago.

At least ten people were killed on Tuesday when a missile struck a bus in a rebel-held area of the northern city of Aleppo, the group noted.

Unrest in Syria started in March 2011 with peaceful anti-government demonstrations.

Assad’s regime cracked down on the protests, prompting the opposition to take up arms.

The conflict has since spiralled into an increasingly bloody civil war, with human rights groups accusing both sides of suspected war crimes.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2013-12-31

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