TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Human Rights Watch on Monday accused members of the al-Qaeda-linked Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) of using torture against activists opposing their rule.

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The New York-based rights group said it documented 11 cases in which HTS "detained Idlib residents, apparently because of their peaceful work documenting abuses or protesting the group's rule".

"Six of those detained were apparently tortured," including a 16-year-old boy, it said in a statement, AFP reported.

"One man described being hung from a pole upside down for hours during interrogation," it said.

Another said he was locked up in something resembling a coffin for three hours, while a third said he was pushed through a tire and beaten incessantly.

"The maximum you can do is move your shoulders a bit. And scream for help. But on several occasions, they stuffed things in my mouth so I can't scream," the detainee told HRW.

"I used to lose my consciousness a lot."

Seven of those interviewed by HRW said they were media activists or journalists who had participated in or covered protests against HTS, or were working with foreign media.

The rights group called for the immediate release of all unlawfully held prisoners, including four still being held or missing among the 11 cases documented.

"There is no legitimate excuse for rounding up opponents and arbitrarily detaining and torturing them," said HRW's Lama Fakih.