Syria arrests 'opponent' after TV interview: Activist

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Damascus, April 20: Syrian authorities arrested opposition figure Mahmud Issa in the restive city of Homs, hours after the cabinet approved a bill to rescind emergency rule, a rights activist said today (April 20).

"A patrol of the political security services arrested (regime) opponent Mahmud Issa on Tuesday night in Homs after he gave an interview to Al-Jazeera television," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In his interview, Issa spoke of the death of General Abdo Khodr al-Tellawi in the region of Homs and, according to Abdel Rahman, said he knew who carried out his murder and asked authorities to investigate and arrest them.

The official SANA news agency said yesterday that "armed criminal gangs... came upon General Abdo Khodr al-Tellawi, his two children and his nephew, and killed them in cold blood" and "mutilated" their bodies.

The regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad's has blamed "armed criminal gangs" for deadly violence since pro-reform demonstrations erupted across Syria in mid-March.

Yesterday, his government approved a bill to rescind a decades-old emergency law and agreed to abolish the state security court. The bill will now go before parliament, which is not due to meet until after May 2.

The cabinet also approved a bill regulating demonstrations, only hours after the interior minister imposed a total ban on political gatherings and after security forces fired on protesters in the central city of Homs, killing four.


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