BEIRUT: An international human rights organization says the Syrian government is unlawfully holding tens of thousands of regime opponents and torturing many in custody.
Human Rights Watch says those arrested by President Bashar Assad's regime include medics who treated wounded protesters, businessmen who raised money for displaced Syrians and even software developers who worked with citizen journalists.
A report by the New York-based group released on Thursday offered accounts of 21 Syrians who had been detained.
They told the group they were beaten in custody with batons, cables and metal rods. HRW cites some as saying they were sexually abused and raped.
Syria's crisis began in March 2011 as largely peaceful protests against Assad's regime but later descended into a civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people.