A human rights group says it believes that at least 88 people, 10 of them children, have died in detention in Syria during five months of anti-government protests – a dramatic increase that coincides with the government's bloody crackdown.
Some of the victims were as young as 13, Amnesty International said. In recent years the annual number of deaths in detention in Syria has been about five, it said.
"These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions and appear to be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing daily on the streets of Syria," said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International's researcher on Syria.
Mr Sammonds also said the group had heard accounts of horrific torture. "We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale," he said.
The victims, all men or boys, were arrested after mass protests began in March.Reuse content