Syria Detains 500 in Border Town

Syrian soldiers rounded up more than 500 people Sunday in a town near the border with Lebanon.

Chana Ya'ar, | updated: 23:44

Syrian protesters on tank
Syrian protesters on tank
Israel news photo: ShamSNN screenshot

Syrian soldiers rounded up more than 500 people Sunday in a town located near the border with Lebanon.

Government forces backed by tanks surrounded the town of Zabadani in a chokehold on Saturday, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Damascus.

Early Sunday, the troops cut the town's electricity, telephone services and Internet connections. Some 2,000 troops then stormed through the streets, making arrests.

The town had been at the center of protests calling for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad since the grassroots uprising against the regime began. Assad has been censured by the international community for the brutality used against protesters by government troops, some of which have allegedly been hired mercenaries from Lebanon and Iran.

Also on Sunday, leading opposition figure Ali Abdullah, 61, was taken into custody after a raid on his home in the Damascus suburb of Qatana, his son Mohammad reported. Abdullah, a writer and member of the Damascus Declaration opposition group, had been released after four years in jail after a pardon on May 30.

One day earlier, eyewitness reports quoted by The Associated Press said security forces opened fire against anti-government protesters in the eastern border town of al-Boukamal, near the border with Iraq. At least one protester was killed and others were wounded.

However, Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso told AP that some 100 soldiers defected while attacking the town, and instead joined the protesters late Saturday. Both protesters and soldiers marched in the streets chanting, “The people and the army are the same,” he said.