Lebanese Human Rights Minister to probe death of Syrians in custody
Lebanon’s human rights minister called on Thursday for an inquiry into the deaths of four Syrians who the military said had died in army custody from chronic illness.
They were among several hundred people arrested last week in a raid at Syrian refugee camps in the Arsal area of northeastern Lebanon on Friday.
“To preserve the army’s image and prevent any rumors that may be malicious, we ask the relevant leadership and judiciary to open a transparent investigation into … the causes that led to the deaths,” minister Ayman Choucair said in a statement sent to Reuters by his office.
New York-based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday demanded an independent inquiry into the deaths and said anyone responsible for wrongdoing should be held to account.
The Lebanese Center for Human Rights said torture had led to the deaths of at least four detainees. The Syrian National Coalition, a Turkey-based political opposition group, said that 10 people had died in custody and that 19 others had died in the raid in refugee camps around Arsal town.
A military source denied these allegations.
The army said that five suicide attackers had blown themselves up while attacking soldiers during last week’s raid, and one civilian was killed.
A military statement on Wednesday said authorities released 15 Syrian detainees and referred 85 others to the main security agency after interrogations.
The Lebanese army is the fifth-biggest recipient of U.S. military assistance, and has also received support from Britain. The aid is part of efforts to bolster Lebanon against a threat from militants groups at the Syrian border.
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