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Syria Bans President’s Cousin from Travelling

Syrian President Bashar al-AssadAtef Najib, a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been banned from travelling oversees after the government says it’s investigating the violence spreading throughout the country. Najib, the Brigadier General, was responsible for running the security department in Daraa, a southern province. The move seems to be the president showing that he is serious about getting to the bottom of the bloodshed. The uprising started in Syria around mid-March after 15 teenagers who were involved in anti-government graffiti were arrested.

Judge Mohammed Deeb al-Muqatran of the Special Judicial Committee said that the travel ban is a precaution to keep Najib available for questioning. He said on Monday that no one is immune to justice, no matter who he is.

A mass grave with at least 10 soldiers’ bodies was discovered by Syrian troops on Sunday in Jisr al-Shughour, a town in the north of the country that government forces stormed. The grave was located outside the town’s military police headquarters, and 4 of the bodies had been struck on the head with an axe or completely decapitated. The government says the bodies, which were still in their uniforms, were evidence of an armed gang attack on security forces last week that claimed 120 lives.

However, some defecting soldiers and residents who fled across the border say that the dead were local recruits shot by officers for not opening fire on peaceful protesters as instructed. The army is also said to have used brutal tactics to recapture the town under cover of tank fire and helicopters. Witnesses say that 2 boys who were trying to escape the attack were killed by government tank fire.

Human rights groups say that, since the unrest started in Syria in March, 1,500 lives have been claimed, and there is no sign that the regime is managing to obstruct opposition. Over the weekend, there were also demonstrations in Damascus, the capital. America, Britain and France have led international criticism of the violence, but they have a lack of support from the Arab League. Russia and China have also opposed a motion of condemnation at the United Nations so far.

British foreign secretary William Hague says that there is no prospect of coming to a resolution through the UN, like the UN resolution 1973 on Libya. This recent resolution authorised a no-fly zone, which is still in place, against forces commanded by Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi. He went on to say that there was a clear call from the Arab League for action in the case of government violence in Libya, and that was a transformative intervention. However, there is no call like this for Syria, who is undoubtedly being assisted by the Iranian government with equipment supplies and advice on how to crush protests, he added.

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