As Syrian regime warplanes launched a new wave of airstrikes on the northwestern town of Maaret Al Numaan yesterday, rights groups called for an investigation into the fate of thousands of men, women and children believed to have been taken by Syrian government forces.
As Syrian regime warplanes launched a new wave of airstrikes on the northwestern town of Maaret Al Numaan yesterday, rights groups called for an investigation into the fate of thousands of men, women Show more

Syria's vanished prompt action call



BEIRUT // At least 28,000 Syrians are believed to have disappeared at the hands of government troops during the country's 19-month conflict, rights groups said yesterday, calling for investigations into the fate of the men, women and children.

The whereabouts of thousands of Syrians remains unknown, says Avaaz, a global organisation that has compiled testimonies from people who say family members have gone missing after being taken by Syrian government forces.

The claim came as opposition activists in Syria said 43 people had been killed in airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the north late on Wednesday and early yesterday.

To back its allegations, Avaaz yesterday released video footage showing soldiers pushing two people to the ground before dragging them away, and interviews with Syrians including a man whose daughter and brother were abducted in Homs.

"I don't forget her. We cry. We are living a tragedy. How can I explain?" the man said, his back to the camera. "I don't know what they did to my daughter."

Some of the missing are believed to be held in Syrian jails, although few relatives have concrete information about their whereabouts.

More than 30,000 people have been killed since the revolt against the regime of Bashar Al Assad began in March last year, activists say.

The UN has registered more than 260,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and there are also an estimated 1.5 million people internally displaced within Syria's borders.

"Syrians are being plucked off the street by Syrian security forces and paramilitaries and being 'disappeared' into torture cells," said Alice Jay, Avaaz's campaign director.

"Nobody is safe. This is a deliberate strategy to terrorise families and communities. The panic of not knowing whether your husband or child is alive breeds such fear that it silences dissent.

"The fate of each and every one of these people must be investigated and the perpetrators punished."

Avaaz plans to provide the reports of those missing to the UN Human Rights Council to investigate.

The figures for the number of disappeared, ranging from 28,000 to 80,000, are based on estimates from Syrian human-rights groups and lawyers, said Avaaz, which documents rights breaches in Syria and supports opposition activists.

The figures could not be independently verified.

Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch's deputy Middle East and North Africa director, said the practice of enforced disappearances has been "widespread" in the conflict.

"This is an old trick of the Syrian mukhabarat [secret police], that happened before the uprising," Mr Houry said.

"It's an old habit that has intensified with the uprising."

The violence on the ground in Syria continued yesterday, with the opposition Local Coordination Committees reporting at least 180 people killed across the country, including in Idlib, Damascus and Aleppo.

Opposition activists reported 43 people killed in airstrikes late on Wednesday and early yesterday on rebel-held areas in northern parts of the country including Aleppo and the town of Maaret Al Numan, which was taken by rebel fighters on Tuesday last week.

These figures also could not be independently confirmed.

Rescue workers in Maaret Al Numan said the air force's bombs destroyed two residential buildings and a mosque, where many women and children were taking refuge.

"At the moment it seems only three people survived the attack, including a two-year-old child," said a medical worker, Jaffar Sharhoub. "He survived in the arms of his dead father."

A video purportedly filmed after the airstrikes shows a man holding up two child-sized legs not connected to a body. Another man walks by carrying an arm. Yet another video shows 18 white cloth bundles holding the remains of those killed.

Other videos from the city of Aleppo show the aftermath of an airstrike on a mosque late on Wednesday. While some men carry away bodies, others work to dig out a survivor whose legs are buried in debris. The authenticity of the videos could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is due to arrive in Damascus tomorrow for talks with government officials.

Mr Brahimi has been pushing for both sides to observe a truce for the duration of the Eid Al Adha holiday. Previous ceasefire attempts have not been successful.

Speaking yesterday in Amman, he said the temporary ceasefire could be a step towards helping Syrians "resolve their problems and to rebuild a new Syria as aspired for by its people".

Also yesterday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged the UN Security Council to "speak with one voice" to end the crisis.

"With no end in sight and no solutions within easy grasp, we are in danger of becoming inured to the horrors that Syrian civilians are suffering day in and day out," Ms Pillay said in Geneva. "But we cannot simply shrug and turn away."

zconstantine@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

FIGHT CARD

Welterweight Mostafa Radi (PAL) v Tohir Zhuraev (TJK)

Catchweight 75kg Leandro Martins (BRA) v Anas Siraj Mounir (MAR)

Flyweight Corinne Laframboise (CAN) v Manon Fiorot (FRA)

Featherweight Ahmed Al Darmaki (UAE) v Bogdan Kirilenko (UZB)

Lightweight Izzedine Al Derabani (JOR) v Atabek Abdimitalipov (KYG)

Featherweight Yousef Al Housani (UAE) v Mohamed Arsharq Ali (SLA)

Catchweight 69kg Jung Han-gook (KOR) v Elias Boudegzdame (ALG)

Catchweight 71kg Usman Nurmagomedov (RUS) v Jerry Kvarnstrom (FIN)

Featherweight title Lee Do-gyeom (KOR) v Alexandru Chitoran (ROU)

Lightweight title Bruno Machado (BRA) v Mike Santiago (USA)

If you go

  • The nearest international airport to the start of the Chuysky Trakt is in Novosibirsk. Emirates (www.emirates.com) offer codeshare flights with S7 Airlines (www.s7.ru) via Moscow for US$5,300 (Dh19,467) return including taxes. Cheaper flights are available on Flydubai and Air Astana or Aeroflot combination, flying via Astana in Kazakhstan or Moscow. Economy class tickets are available for US$650 (Dh2,400).
  • The Double Tree by Hilton in Novosibirsk (+7 383 2230100,) has double rooms from US$60 (Dh220). You can rent cabins at camp grounds or rooms in guesthouses in the towns for around US$25 (Dh90).
  • The transport Minibuses run along the Chuysky Trakt but if you want to stop for sightseeing, hire a taxi from Gorno-Altaisk for about US$100 (Dh360) a day. Take a Russian phrasebook or download a translation app. Tour companies such as Altair-Tour (+7 383 2125115 ) offer hiking and adventure packages.
Ahmed Raza

UAE cricket captain

Age: 31

Born: Sharjah

Role: Left-arm spinner

One-day internationals: 31 matches, 35 wickets, average 31.4, economy rate 3.95

T20 internationals: 41 matches, 29 wickets, average 30.3, economy rate 6.28

The Secret Kingdom

Director: Matt Drummond

Stars: Alyla Browne, Alice Parkinson, Sam Everingham

Rating: 3/5

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Dubai World Cup Carnival Card:

6.30pm: Handicap US$135,000 (Turf) 1,200m
7.05pm: Handicap $135,000 (Dirt) 1,200m​​​​​​​
7.40pm: Zabeel Turf Listed $175,000 (T) 2,000m​​​​​​​
8.15pm: Cape Verdi Group Two $250,000 (T) 1,600m​​​​​​​
8.50pm: Handicap $135,000 (D) 1,600m​​​​​​​
9.25pm: Handicap $175,000 (T) 1,600m

Notable Yas events in 2017/18

October 13-14 KartZone (complimentary trials)

December 14-16 The Gulf 12 Hours Endurance race

March 5 Yas Marina Circuit Karting Enduro event

March 8-9 UAE Rotax Max Challenge

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Get inspired

Here are a couple of Valentine’s Day food products that may or may not go the distance (but have got the internet talking anyway).

Sourdough sentiments: Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom has introduced a slow-baked sourdough loaf dusted with flour to spell out I (heart) you, at £2 (Dh9.5). While it’s not available in the UAE, there’s nothing to stop you taking the idea and creating your own message of love, stencilled on breakfast-inbed toast.  

Crisps playing cupid: Crisp company Tyrells has added a spicy addition to its range for Valentine’s Day. The brand describes the new honey and chilli flavour on Twitter as: “A tenderly bracing duo of the tantalising tingle of chilli with sweet and sticky honey. A helping hand to get your heart racing.” Again, not on sale here, but if you’re tempted you could certainly fashion your own flavour mix (spicy Cheetos and caramel popcorn, anyone?). 

Results

4pm: Maiden; Dh165,000 (Dirt); 1,400m
Winner: Solar Shower; William Lee (jockey); Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

4.35pm: Handicap; Dh165,000 (D); 2,000m
Winner: Thaaqib; Antonio Fresu; Erwan Charpy.

5.10pm: Maiden; Dh165,000 (Turf); 1,800m
Winner: Bila Shak; Adrie de Vries; Fawzi Nass

5.45pm: Handicap; Dh175,000 (D); 1,200m
Winner: Beachcomber Bay; Richard Mullen; Satish Seemar

6.20pm: Handicap;​​​​​​​ Dh205,000 (T); 1,800m
Winner: Muzdawaj; Jim Crowley;​​​​​​​ Musabah Al Muhairi

6.55pm: Handicap;​​​​​​​ Dh185,000 (D); 1,600m
Winner: Mazeed; Tadhg O’Shea;​​​​​​​ Satish Seemar

7.30pm: Handicap; Dh205,000 (T); 1,200m
Winner: Riflescope; Tadhg O’Shea;​​​​​​​ Satish Seemar.

Bundesliga fixtures

Saturday, May 16 (kick-offs UAE time)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (4.30pm) 

RB Leipzig v Freiburg (4.30pm) 

Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (4.30pm) 

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Paderborn  (4.30pm) 

Augsburg v Wolfsburg (4.30pm) 

Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Monchengladbach (7.30pm)

Sunday, May 17

Cologne v Mainz (4.30pm),

Union Berlin v Bayern Munich (7pm)

Monday, May 18

Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen (9.30pm)

Getting there

The flights

Flydubai operates up to seven flights a week to Helsinki. Return fares to Helsinki from Dubai start from Dh1,545 in Economy and Dh7,560 in Business Class.

The stay

Golden Crown Igloos in Levi offer stays from Dh1,215 per person per night for a superior igloo; www.leviniglut.net 

Panorama Hotel in Levi is conveniently located at the top of Levi fell, a short walk from the gondola. Stays start from Dh292 per night based on two people sharing; www. golevi.fi/en/accommodation/hotel-levi-panorama

Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Rovaniemi offers stays from Dh1,379 per night based on two people sharing; www.arctictreehousehotel.com

Points Classification

1. Marcel Kittel (Germany / Quick-Step) 63

2. Arnaud Demare (France / FDJ) 38

3. Andre Greipel (Germany / Lotto) 25

4. Sonny Colbrelli (Italy / Bahrain) 24

5. Mark Cavendish (Britain / Dimension Data) 22

6. Taylor Phinney (U.S. / Cannondale) 21

7. Geraint Thomas (Britain / Team Sky) 20

8. Thomas Boudat (France / Direct Energie) 20

9. Stefan Kueng (Switzerland / BMC Racing) 17

10. Michael Matthews (Australia / Sunweb) 17

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Indoor Cricket World Cup Dubai 2017

Venue Insportz, Dubai; Admission Free

Day 1 fixtures (Saturday)

Men 1.45pm, Malaysia v Australia (Court 1); Singapore v India (Court 2); UAE v New Zealand (Court 3); South Africa v Sri Lanka (Court 4)

Women Noon, New Zealand v South Africa (Court 3); England v UAE (Court 4); 5.15pm, Australia v UAE (Court 3); England v New Zealand (Court 4)

The Laughing Apple

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

(Verve Decca Crossover)

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 680hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2,750-6,000rpm
Transmission: Rear-mounted eight-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 13.6L/100km
On sale: Orderbook open; deliveries start end of year
Price: From Dh970,000

SPECS

Engine: 2-litre direct injection turbo
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Power: 261hp
Torque: 400Nm
Price: From Dh134,999


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