Killings, arrests said to continue after Syria agreed to peace plan

Syria

Killings and arrests have continued despite a pledge by Syrian authorities to back a peace plan brokered by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

In one incident, 13 students in the region of Daraya were reportedly arrested at their school by security agents, the group said. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the boys, ages 17 to 19, were searched, beaten and verbally abused before being taken to an unknown location.

Amnesty International said it had also received reports of 232 people killed, including 17 children, since Syria agreed to the peace plan last week. Opposition activists said 150 people died in the conflict on Monday alone.

If it does not stop the violence and put a halt to arbitrary arrests, “the only conclusion we can draw is that Syria has made empty promises once more,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of the human rights group in the United States.

Syria has agreed to an April 10 deadline to implement the new peace plan, Annan told the U.N. Security Council. The plan calls for a ceasefire, political talks, opening the way for humanitarian aid, freeing people unfairly detained, opening up access to the media and respecting the right to peaceful protest.

A Syrian government official told the Associated Press that troops had begun pulling out of some cities Tuesday, though the news service said it could not verify the claim and activists near Damascus disputed the claim. Activists said government shelling had continued in several cities.

The country has been wracked by an uprising against President Bashar Assad for more than a year. More than 10,000 people are believed to have perished, including opposition fighters, government forces and civilians. The Syrian government has been condemned by the United Nations for rampant human rights abuses as it combats the rebellion; the Assad regime argues it is defending itself against terrorists.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Syrians wave revolutionary flags and chant slogans at a night protest against President Bashar Assad in a neighborhood of Damascus on Monday. Credit: Associated Press

 
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