Syrian Rebel Jihadists Capture Six Rebel Activists

Jaysh al-Islam accused of destroying activist office and taking hostages, in apparent attempt to monopolize opposition in region.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Syrian rebel forces (illustration)
Syrian rebel forces (illustration)

Syrian activists on Tuesday accused Jaysh al-Islam, a powerful Islamist group near Damascus, of detaining a group of their colleagues, in what they said was the latest in a string of abuses.

"An armed group believed to be loyal to Jaysh al-Islam stormed the office of Erbin's local (activist) committee. ...It kidnapped the team there and took them to an area near the frontline," said the non-violent Local Coordination Committees (LCC) activist group, reports AFP.

The armed men also "seized and destroyed the Erbin committee's equipment," said the LCC, condemning the raid.

Its statement came a day after the Erbin committee announced via its Facebook page that its office had been broken into.

An LCC spokeswoman told AFP via the Internet that six activists had been taken from their office on Monday, while the Erbin committee said one had since been set free.

According to the Erbin committee's Facebook page, the unnamed activist who was released said his detained colleagues "are being held in isolation from each other, in solitary confinement."

LCC spokeswoman Majeda, who refused to be identified by her full name for fear of persecution, said the latest detention is part of a campaign by Jaysh al-Islam to "empty the revolution of its true activists."

Jaysh al-Islam is the most powerful rebel group operating in the Eastern Ghouta area, east of Damascus, where Erbin is located.

Critics have accused its chief, Zahran Alloush, of seeking to sideline any potential rivals, armed or peaceful.

Jaysh al-Islam spokesman Islam Alloush told AFP that the Erbin activists had been "detained by the United Judiciary," the local judicial authority in the region.

He said he had no further information on the case, or on what charges had been brought against the activists.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman said the rebel judiciary in Eastern Ghouta is "dominated" by Jaysh al-Islam.

The rebel group has been accused of detaining activists before, including in late 2013, when four prominent activists in Douma, also east of Damascus, went missing.

"The kidnapper is one and the same," LCC spokeswoman Majeda said of the two incidents. "By no means is it the first time that we see such a kidnapping."

Syria's war began as a peaceful revolt demanding democratic change. It morphed into a civil war after President Bashar al-Assad's regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.