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US slams Syria for jailing rights lawyer, dissidents

[JURIST] US Secretary of State spokesperson Sean McCormack on Tuesday blasted Syria for arresting human rights leaders [JURIST report] and called for Syria to release all political prisoners [press briefing transcript]. Syrian security police last week arrested human rights lawyer Anwar al-Bunni [AI backgrounder], prominent writer Michel Kilo [BBC report] and Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt [BBC profile] in what McCormack characterized as a crackdown on "Syrians who seek to defend their rights and to bring democratic change to their country."

All those arrested allegedly signed a petition advocating improved relations with neighboring Lebanon, which coincides with a unanimous UN Security Council resolution [text; UN News report] to "strongly encourage" Syria to end the flow of weapons over the border to Lebanese militias, and to respond to a request by Lebanon to delineate their common border and establish full diplomatic relations. The Syrian government has condemned [SANA report] both the petition and the resolution as a violation of international law. VOA has more.

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