Russia says Syrian ceasefire monitoring centre hit in shelling: TASS

A picture taken on February 20, 2018 shows a Russian-made Syrian army attack helicopter dropping a payload over the rebel-held town of Arbin, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. (Amer Al-Mohibany/AFP)
Updated 21 February 2018
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Russia says Syrian ceasefire monitoring centre hit in shelling: TASS

MOSCOW: Russia's ceasefire monitoring centre has been damaged by shelling from the rebel-held district of eastern Ghouta outside the Syrian capital Damascus, the TASS news agency cited Russia's Ministry of Defence as saying late on Tuesday.
"Residential areas, Damascus hotels, as well as Russia's Centre for Syrian Reconciliation, were hit in a massive bombardment by illegal armed groups from Eastern Ghouta," TASS cited the ministry as saying.
"There was severe damage and victims among civilians. There were no victims among the Russian armed forces," TASS said, quoting the ministry.
A wave of air strikes, rocket fire and shelling has hit Eastern Ghouta, killing at least 250 people since Sunday night.


Human rights monitor accuses Yemen rebels of hostage-taking, torture

Updated 17 min 28 sec ago
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Human rights monitor accuses Yemen rebels of hostage-taking, torture

  • ‘Houthi officials have treated detainees brutally, often amounting to torture’
  • ‘Some Houthi officials are exploiting their power to turn a profit through detention, torture and murder’

DUBAI: Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Yemen’s Houthi rebels of hostage-taking, torture and other serious abuses against people in their custody.
The New York-based watchdog said it had documented 16 cases of illegal imprisonment by the Iran-backed Shiite insurgents, “in large part to extort money from relatives or to exchange them for people held by opposing forces.”
“Houthi officials have treated detainees brutally, often amounting to torture,” HRW said, adding that former detainees described being beaten with iron rods, wooden sticks and assault rifles.
Prisoners were shackled to walls, caned and threatened with rape, it said, noting that hostage-taking “is a serious violation of the laws of war and a war crime.”
“The Houthis have added profiteering to their long list of abuses and offenses against the people under their control in Yemen,” said HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson.
“Rather than treat detainees humanely, some Houthi officials are exploiting their power to turn a profit through detention, torture and murder.”
The Houthis seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, forcing the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee south.
HRW called on the UN Human Rights Council to renew the mandate of a group of experts on Yemen to investigate and identify all parties responsible for abuses.