Rebel fighters train on the outskirts of the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on September 29, 2013
Rebel fighters train on the outskirts of the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on September 29, 2013 © Mohammed al-Fares - AFP/File
Rebel fighters train on the outskirts of the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on September 29, 2013
AFP
Last updated: May 6, 2014

Syria rebels kidnap officer who wanted to run against Assad

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Syrian rebels from the southern province of Daraa have kidnapped a presidential hopeful whose bid was turned down by the constitutional court, according to an online video distributed Tuesday.

The video shows three armed, bearded rebels wearing fatigues in a room with Mohammad Kanaan, a military officer who had registered to run in June 3 elections that are widely expected to return President Bashar al-Assad to power.

In a video filmed by the rebel brigade and distributed online by opposition media activists, he is shown wearing a suit, seated on an armchair.

"The Tabarak al-Rahman Brigade has arrested one of the presidential candidates," said an unnamed rebel seated next to Kanaan.

Prompted to speak, Kanaan says he is a colonel in the army's First Division tank battalion, and that he was stopped by a rebel Free Syrian Army patrol while travelling from Damascus to Daraa.

Asked why he registered for an election that the opposition has mocked as a "farce," Kanaan, who appeared tense and was flanked by gunmen, said the regime coerced him into running.

Tens of thousands of people have gone missing over the course of Syria's conflict, with kidnapping and detention used by all sides in the war.

Motivations for abductions include extortion and hostage exchange, eradicating criticism, and eliminating political rivals.

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