A recent wave of arrests and court sentences has targeted several human rights activists and opposition figures. On April 3, the Syrian State Security Court sentenced Kurdish human rights activist Riad Drar to five years in prison on charges of disseminating false news, inciting sectarian riots, and forming a secret organization. The court also sentenced Abdul Sattar Qattan, a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to 12 years in prison on April 3 and three students accused of being Islamists to 10 years imprisonment on March 28. Syrian authorities arrested four human rights activists in the week of March 20, including the former vice president of the Human Rights Association in Syria Mohammad Najati Tayyara. Two weeks earlier Syrian security forces detained for four days Amar Qurabi, a spokesperson for the Arab Human Rights Organization in Syria, on his return from political conferences in Washington and Paris. Click here for more details on these cases by Amnesty International.

Meeting in Brussels on March 17, exiled Syrian opposition leaders announced the creation of a united front to form a transitional government to bring about regime change in Syria. Participants in the National Salvation Front include former Syrian vice president Abdel Halim Khaddam, leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood Ali Sadreddine Al Bayanouni, and smaller Kurdish and communist parties. On April 9, a military court in Syria charged Khaddam, who has been living in Paris since he defected in December 2005, with inciting a foreign attack against Syria and plotting to take power.