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Amnesty Says Al-Qaeda-Linked Rebels Using Torture, Executions In Syria

Fighters from the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra search civilians in Aleppo. (file photo)
Amnesty International says that an Al-Qaeda–linked rebel group operating in Syria uses torture, flogging, and summary killings in secret prisons.

In an 18-page report issued on December 19, Amnesty International identified seven detention facilities it says are run by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in the northern provinces of Aleppo and Al-Raqqa.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa, says that those abducted by the ISIS "include children as young as eight who are held together with adults."

Amnesty has called on the international community "to take concrete steps to block the flow of arms and other support to [ISIS] and other armed groups implicated in committing war crimes."

Russia Signals To Assad To Stay Silent On Reelection

Meanwhile, in related Syria news, Russia says that remarks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he would seek reelection in 2014 risked harming the atmosphere ahead of peace talks.

An international peace conference on Syria is planned in Geneva in January.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that "ahead of the start of negotiations, there should be no remarks that could displease anyone or provoke emotions and a response."

It is a rare criticism, as Russia has been Assad's most important international ally during Syria's civil war.

It was not immediately clear which recent statement by Assad Bogdanov was referring to. But the Syrian regime has repeatedly said that Assad would run in the 2014 polls.

Assad himself said in a television interview in October that he saw no reason why he "shouldn't run in the next election."

With reporting by AFP, Interfax, and Reuters
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