The Guardian reports:
A blogger whose frank and witty thoughts on Syria’s uprising, politics and being a lesbian in the country shot her to prominence was last night seized by armed men in Damascus.
Amina Arraf, who blogged under the name Amina Abdallah, holds dual Syrian and American citizenship and is the author of the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus, which has drawn fans from Syria and across the world.
She was kidnapped last night as she and a friend were on their way to a meeting in Damascus. The kidnapping was reported on her blog by a cousin.
“Amina was seized by three men in their early 20s. According to the witness (who does not want her identity known), the men were armed,” wrote Rania Ismail.
“Amina hit one of them and told the friend to go find her father. One of the men then put his hand over Amina’s mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad.”
Basel is the brother of president Bashar al-Assad, and was being groomed for the presidency until his death in a car crash in 1994.
Amina, who was midway through writing a book, had become increasingly popular after capturing the imagination of the Syrian opposition as the protest movement struggled in the face of the government crackdown.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports:
The Syrian government has vowed to retaliate after claiming that dozens of its police and security forces were killed in attacks in and around the north-western town of Jisr al-Shughour.
In an indication they will intensify the crackdown on protesters that has already killed an estimated 1,200 civilians, authorities rapidly upgraded the toll in the town 20 miles from the Turkish border.
The state news agency, Sana, initially said 28 personnel had been killed, including in an armed ambush and at a state security post. It revised the figure up to 43, 80 and then 120 within the space of an hour without an explanation. The claims could not be independently verified.
“We will act firmly and decisively based on the law [and] will never be silent over any armed attack that targets the country’s security,” the interior minister, Ibrahim Shaar, said in a statement broadcast on state television.
A military operation took place in the town as part of a wider crackdown on 12 weeks of protests calling for the end of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, although residents said the town was calm on Monday.
The regime and state media have little credibility, having waged an unprecedented war of disinformation while refusing to acknowledge a role in the crackdown, blaming the escalating violence on armed gangs and extremist insurgents.