- - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

BEIRUT — An international human rights group Tuesday accused some in Syria’s armed opposition of carrying out serious abuses, including the kidnapping and torture of security forces. It’s a sign of the growing complexity of the year-old uprising against President Bashar Assad.

The statement by Human Rights Watch comes as Syria’s rebellion is transforming into an insurgency, with army defectors and other government opponents taking up arms to drive out Mr. Assad.

The development has added another violent dimension to a conflict that already has killed more than 8,000 people since last March.

ISRAEL

Military weekly in trouble over drag report

JERUSALEM — An article about off-duty soldiers in Israel doubling as drag queens has gotten an Israeli military magazine into trouble.

The military said Tuesday that the weekly, Bamahane, from now on must send its articles for approval by the chief education officer.

The writer interviewed three active-duty soldiers who slip into drag after their shifts. The article was illustrated by photos, including one of a soldier in military uniform wearing a gas mask and red over-the-knee boots with see-through high heels.

The military said the army’s chief of the Education and Youth Corps is responsible for overseeing the magazine’s content but that this has not been enforced.

YEMEN

Army: 5 militants killed in south

ADEN — The Yemeni army shelled suspected hideouts of al Qaeda militants in the southern province of Abyan, killing five of them, a local official told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday.

“Five al Qaeda fighters were killed and several others wounded in the late Monday bombardment of Al-Quz,” on the outskirts of the provincial capital Zinjibar, which the militants overran in May, the official said.

Troops and militants traded machine-gun fire early Tuesday on the city’s northern and eastern outskirts, said the official, from nearby Jaar - another militant stronghold.

Al Qaeda militants have exploited the weakening of the central government in Sanaa in the face of 10 months of deadly protests last year to strengthen their presence, especially in the south and east.

ISRAEL

Doctors: Hunger striker in critical condition

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian woman who has refused food for the past month to protest her imprisonment by Israel without formal charges is in grave danger of dying, a medical rights group said Tuesday.

Hana Shalabi has lost 31 pounds, her muscles are wasting, and she is in excruciating pain, said Ran Cohen of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which has provided her a doctor.

She has taken only water since her arrest on Feb. 16.

Israel Prison Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said that for the time being, Ms. Shalabi is being monitored at a prison clinic.

Ms. Shalabi, 30, a supporter of the militant Islamic Jihad group, is being held without formal charges, an Israeli system called “administrative detention.” She is scheduled to be released in another three months.

Israeli military officials say they use administrative detention to hold people who pose an immediate risk to the country’s security, or when displaying incriminating evidence would reveal Israeli intelligence-gathering networks.

More than 300 of about 6,000 Palestinians currently held by Israel on security-related charges are in administrative detention.

Rights activists say international law allows this practice only in exceptional cases and that Israel blatantly violates those restrictions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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