AZAZ, Syria: More than 70 families gathered in the rebel-held Syrian city of Azaz on Friday to highlight the plight of missing loved ones in the government’s feared prison system.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011, nearly a million people have been detained in a network of prisons and camps run by various security services.
According to observatory figures, about 105,000 of them have died in custody, while others have been released, but tens of thousands are unaccounted for.
Lama Andani said that it has been nine years since her husband was arrested.
For 18 months, he kept getting some updates indirectly, but then nothing happened.
“I know what it is like to be tortured in regime prisons,” Andani said, adding that he had spent nine years in prison during the last outbreak of political unrest in Syria during the 1980s.
“We have come here in the hope of taking our message to the international community… so that it will not be forgotten.
“I dream of seeing my husband … and of knowing what happened to him,” she said, as she joined others in posting the message to a class in Ajaz.
The northern city along the border with Turkey was captured by Turkish troops in 2016 to prevent it from falling to US-backed Kurdish forces, which wrested northern Syria from the Daesh group.
Since then it has been under the control of rebel groups backed by Ankara.
In 2013, a military guard known as “Caesar” smuggled over 50,000 photographs from Syria, many of them documenting the deaths of prisoners in detention centers or military hospitals.
The name came to be used in the title of US law that provides for economic sanctions against Syria.
Despite efforts from both sides of the conflict to open dialogue about the missing, little progress has been made on establishing their fate.
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