Syrian forces arrest top tribal leader -opposition

AMMAN Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:02am EDT

AMMAN Jul 31 (Reuters) - Syrian forces have arrested Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir, head of the main Baqqara tribe in rebellious Deir al-Zor province and a prominent figure in the campaign against President Bashar al-Assad, opposition sources told Reuters on Sunday.

Secret police agents arrested Bashir, who commands the loyalty of an estimated 1.2 million Baqqara, in Ein Qirsh district of Damascus on Saturday afternoon, they said.

Hours before his arrest Bashir told Reuters he was striving to stop armed resistance to a military assault on the provincial capital of Deir al-Zor and to convince inhabitants to stick to peaceful methods, despite killings by security forces. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom)

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