UK calls Homs evacuee screening 'outrageous'

2014-02-13 18:50
Syrian civilians wait at a meeting point before being evacuated during a UN-led humanitarian operation in the besieged Syrian city of Homs. (Bassel Tawil, AFP)

Syrian civilians wait at a meeting point before being evacuated during a UN-led humanitarian operation in the besieged Syrian city of Homs. (Bassel Tawil, AFP)

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London - Britain said on Thursday it was "outrageous" that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime had been detaining men and boys evacuated from the ravaged city of Homs.

Foreign secretary William Hague said there was a risk that the evacuation could be the pretext for further attacks on Homs.

The authorities have been screening scores of men of weapons-bearing age who were detained after they were evacuated from besieged rebel-held areas.

"It is outrageous that the Syrian regime is holding and screening men and boys who have been evacuated", Hague said in a statement.

"We need answers urgently about what is happening to them. They should be released immediately.

"There is also a serious risk that the evacuation of civilians will be used as a pretext for even more vicious attacks on Homs, and the international community must be extremely vigilant about that.

"These developments only strengthen the case for the [UN] Security Council Resolution that we are pressing in New York."

The provincial governor of Homs said men arrested by the Syrian authorities after being evacuated under a UN-brokered ceasefire will be released on Thursday.

A total of 390 men had been detained for interrogation after being evacuated from rebel-held districts of the country's third city, Talal Barazi told AFP.

He said on Wednesday that 111 had been released, although there was no confirmation from the UN.

Read more on:    un  |  william hague  |  bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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