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Nearly 50,000 detainees missing in Damascus

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Damascus detainees missingIt was three in the afternoon when Lulu's phone stopped working somewhere in east Damascus near the Air Force Intelligence building, one of Syria's most feared security agencies.

That was last November. The 30-year-old had been shopping in Hamra, a 15-minute drive away. She has yet to come home.

Lulu's disappearance was one of many believed to have occurred in the weeks leading up to the peace talks in Geneva between President Bashar al-Assad's government and members of Syria's political opposition in exile.

The opposition say they have the names of nearly 50,000 detainees whose release they are seeking. Trying to highlight the issue on the opening day of the talks, two opposition delegates carried pictures of veteran dissident Abdelaziz al-Khayyer, who disappeared in Damascus two years ago.

The government said the list it was presented with had far fewer names that the opposition maintained and that most of them had either been released already or were never detained.

But in Damascus, arbitrary detentions continue to devastate families who have no way of finding their loved ones.

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