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Syria detains dissident who criticised Russian strikes

05 october 2015, 13:38

The Syrian authorities on Sunday briefly detained a prominent opposition figure days after he criticised Russian air strikes in Syria, he told AFP.

Munzer Khaddam, 67, spokesman for the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, was stopped at a checkpoint near Damascus.

"I was released after being arrested at a military checkpoint at Kutayfeh and held from eight o'clock (0500 GMT) until four in the afternoon because of a military security arrest warrant," Khaddam said.

He said a military security official ordered that he be released or freed, adding: "I am now heading for Latakia" on the coast.

On Thursday, Khaddam wrote critical comments on Facebook about the air strikes that Russia, a long-time ally of Damascus, launched against jihadists and rebels in Syria the previous day.

"The Syrian crisis is nowhere near being solved as some dreamers think, and the Russian intervention further complicates" the conflict, he wrote.

He added that a Russian military presence would only serve to attract more jihadists to Syria.

It was the second time that the writer and university professor has been held since war broke out in Syria in 2011.

In December 2013, Khaddam was briefly detained at a military checkpoint in the coastal town of Tartus in the northwest.

He was jailed for his political views from 1982 to 1994.

Although the group to which he belongs is generally tolerated by President Bashar al-Assad's regime, several members of the political alliance are in jail in Syria.

On November 20, 2013, top NCCDC official Rajaa Nasser was arrested by a security patrol in Damascus. Another member, Abdel Aziz Khair, has been in detention since September 2012.

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