The Latest: Opposition says Syrian-American died in prison

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in and related to Syria (all times local):

6:35 p.m.

Syrian opposition groups say authorities have informed the family of a Syrian-American woman detained two years ago that she died in custody shortly afterward.

The Syrian National Coalition said Thursday that Leila Shuweikani died shortly after being detained in 2016 and that she was tortured.

The Syrian Human Rights Committee said Shuweikani died on Dec. 28, 2016, adding that her family was informed about the death on Monday.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have been detained since the country’s civil war began seven years ago and the opposition says many detainees have died under torture in government detention centers.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said Thursday it has documented 16,065 persons who were killed in government detention centers. It added that tens of thousands of others have died in government prisons.

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5:10 p.m.

A U.N. aid official for Syria has criticized the U.S. policy to refuse funding for areas controlled by an al-Qaida affiliate as “wrong,” and says economic sanctions should be “continuously studied and modified” to avoid hurting civilians.

Jan Egeland spoke to reporters as he ended his three-year tenure as the top humanitarian aid official in the U.N Syria envoy’s office, denouncing how the world community has “failed” Syrian civilians.

“All hell was let loose on them and no one was willing and able to shield and protect them.”

Egeland said Thursday he didn’t know whether Western sanctions against Syria should be lifted, but was “glad” that other Western donors didn’t share the U.S. policy of refusing funding for areas controlled by an al-Qaida-linked extremist group long known as Nusra Front.

The U.S. State Department was not immediately able to comment.

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3:20 p.m.

U.S. forces have set up an observation point in a Syrian town controlled by its Kurdish-led Syrian allies along the border with Turkey in northeastern Syria, the scene of recent tension.

U.S-led coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said Thursday the forces are securing locations for manned observation posts along the border “to support security and stability” in the area. Ryan said the posts are not permanent structures and aim to keep “all parties focusing” on fighting Islamic State group militants, who still have a stronghold to the south.

Tension spiked along the border in recent weeks after Turkey shelled Kurdish positions in northeastern Syria.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within Turkey. The U.S-led coalition supports the Kurdish-led forces who retook large areas in eastern Syria from IS.

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11:35 a.m.

Syria’s U.N. ambassador says that if Western countries are serious about helping in the return of millions of Syrian refugees to their homeland, they should begin by lifting economic sanctions against the war-torn country.

Bashar Ja’afari spoke on Thursday in the Kazakh capital of Astana where Russia, Turkey and Iran are holding talks with the Syrian government and the opposition. The mediators are speaking separately to the warring sides, which are not meeting face-to-face.

Nearly 6 million Syrians have fled the civil war, now in its eighth year, to neighboring countries and Europe.

Ja’afari says lifting the sanctions imposed on Syria would be “the real test” for the West.

Europe says it will keep its sanctions in place as long as “repression” continues in Syria, extending the measures to 2019.

Categories: International News