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Syria accused of kidnappings in Lebanon

Syria accused of kidnappings in Lebanon
Mothers, wives, sisters and children of Syrian anti-government men who were arrested by the security forces hold banners and shout slogans during a protest demanding to release them in the town of Nawa, Darra city, Syria, on May 4, 2011. UPI | License Photo

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Syria was behind the kidnapping of Syrian dissidents who fled to Lebanon after the uprising against their country's president began, a Lebanese official said.

Gen. Asraf Rifi, head of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, told Parliament Syria orchestrated the disappearance of Shibli al-Aisamy, 89, a leading voice against Syrian President Bashar Assad, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

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Rifi also accused Syria of arranging the disappearance of three Syrian brothers that was carried out by rogue members of the Lebanese security forces.

A parliamentary report on Rifi's closed-door testimony in October was leaked to the news media.

In it, he "personally accuses the Syrian Embassy in Lebanon of kidnapping [al-]Aisamy in an operation that was similar to the abduction of the Jassem brothers."

More than 500 Syrians have fled to Lebanon since the uprising against Assad escalated in mid-March, human rights groups said.

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