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Amnesty accuses al-Qaida-linked group in Syria of running secret prisons, torturing prisoners

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In this Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center, AMC, and released Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect the rubble of damaged buildings following a Syrian government airstrike in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian warplanes dumped explosive-laden barrel bombs over opposition-held parts of the northern city of Aleppo on Wednesday, the fourth day of a relentless offensive to drive rebels out of the contested city, activists said. The country's conflict, now in its third year, appears to have escalated in recent weeks as both sides maneuver ahead of next month's planned peace talks and ignore calls for a cease-fire. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center, AMC)The Associated Press

Amnesty International has accused an al-Qaida-linked group that controls large parts of northern Syria of running secret prisons in which torture and summary killings are common.

The Britain-based watchdog says the rebel group — known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant — has "ruthlessly flouted the rights of local people."

Amnesty's findings, released in a report Thursday, were based on interviews with former detainees.

The Islamic rebel group has along with more moderate opposition fighters over the past two years seized much territory in the north from President Bashar Assad's forces.

Amnesty says the ISIL runs seven detention facilities in Syria's Aleppo and Raqqa provinces, often holding people for challenging its rule, petty crimes like theft or for committing purported "crimes against Islam" such as smoking cigarettes.