Syrian Alawite figure speaks out against violence

December 14, 2011 01:50

AMMAN - A Syrian Alawite centrist political figure said on Tuesday that four of his relatives were shot or kidnapped in sectarian violence threatening to undermine a nine-month pro-democracy uprising.

In a rare named testimony about sectarian killings that have racked the central city of Homs in the last few weeks, Mohammad Saleh told Reuters that the four were targeted because they were Alawites, the same sect as President Bashar Assad.

"The violence by the regime has provoked counter violence. But a crime is a crime and it has to be condemned," said Saleh, a former political prisoner, by phone from Homs, a city of one million, 140 kms (88 miles) north of Damascus

"I went to jail for a civilised Syria, not to replicate the values of the regime," said Saleh, who spent 12 years in jail for his opposition to Assad's father, the late president Hafez Assad, from whom Bashar inherited power in 2000.

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