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Rights Activists Say Hama Prisoners in Deal to End Mutiny | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Syrian regime forces walk on a street in the central Syrian province of Hama. AFP

A tentative deal has been struck to end a days-long mutiny in the central Syrian prison of Hama by hundreds of mostly political detainees, rights groups and activists in touch with inmates said on Monday.

They said the deal brokered late on Sunday would end the strike of nearly 800 prisoners, which started last week when political detainees revolted after five inmates were to be taken to the notorious military-run Sadnaya prison for the execution of death sentences.

“The regime has agreed to most of our demands to release those political detainees held without charges,” said a rights activist in touch with two inmates who requested anonymity.

The prisoners seized the prison 210 km (130 miles) from Damascus, and took some guards hostage.

That prompted a siege in which the authorities tried to storm the civilian prison on Friday using tear gas bombs and rubber bullets in an attempt to end the rebellion.

Syria’s main opposition group urged international organizations last Friday “to intervene to prevent an imminent massacre” of prisoners.

Leading Syrian rights activist Mazen Darwish, a former detainee in the prison and in touch with the prisoners, said a verbal agreement had been reached, but did not give details.

Another rights activist in touch with inmates said the deal was brokered after tribal figures intervened with the authorities who gave assurances to inmates held without charge they would be released if they ended their revolt.

The Syrian regime has denied the reports about the Hama prison but has not elaborated on the issue since Monday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had confirmed a deal was in the works to release 26 detainees. The authorities previously released 46 detainees under Red Crescent mediation until negotiations broke down.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern late on Friday about the safety of the hostages and said an attempt to retake the facility risked high casualties.