AMMAN - Syrian forces arrested a prominent human rights lawyers in the city of Raqqa after he criticised the authorities' reaction to anti-government protests, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Observatory said Abdallah Khalil was arrested on Sunday by Military Intelligence agents at the Place of Justice in his home city of Raqqa in eastern Syria, which was hit hard by a water crisis in the last six years experts say has been largely caused by mismanagement of resources and corruption.

Khalil challenged President Bashar al-Assad in 2007 for running unopposed in a referendum that gave him a second term as president. Assad succeeded his father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

He made the comments on Al-Jazeera Television.

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