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Tribesmen say Deir al-Zour’s sheikh is dead; evidence indicates he was tortured

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A prominent sheikh has been killed in Syria, and there is evidence that he had been tortured, said the Council of Syria’s Tribes.

Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir, who had been missing since June 2011, was explicit in his opposition against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and was the leader of al-Bakara, a prominent tribe..

Bashir was also the official representative of the tribe, which has members in both Syria and Iraq. Hailing from Deir al-Zour, a city in northeastern Syria, the sheikh was also politically involved and served as a diplomatic envoys for the country.

The sheikh urged Syrians to continue peacefully protesting against the regime for a new democratic Syria, read one graphic banner in a Facebook campaign supporting the sheikh.

“If Russia and China were with you, then the God of both Russia and China are with us,” said one Facebook user and supporter of the sheikh.

Earlier reports of his death had been denied by the Omar bin al-Khatab brigade, which is made up of soldiers who had defected from the Syrian military.

Security forces have been trying for months to bring an end to a popular uprising that has been marked by hundreds of thousands marching in major cities against Assad’s regime.

The United Nations estimates that more than 2,700 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since mid-March.

Syria maintains that the regime’s opponents are armed gangs and terrorists trying to sow chaos in the country.

A resolution to enforce sanctions against Syria put to the U.N. Security Council was vetoed this week by Russia and China, a move denounced by several western countries, including the United States.

Damascus welcomed the Chinese-Russian vetoes as “historic.”

Germany has summoned the Syrian ambassador to Berlin over a tirade by Damascus’s envoy to the United Nations, the foreign ministry said in a statement here Thursday.

“The Syrian ambassador in Germany was summoned yesterday to the foreign ministry,” the statement said.

“At the meeting, the verbal attack by the Syrian U.N. ambassador was rejected in the strongest terms,” it added.

“The Syrian U.N. ambassador made absolutely unacceptable remarks about Germany after talks at the U.N. Security Council on the Syria resolution.”

Syrian ambassador Bashar Jaafari on Tuesday condemned what he called the “unprecedentedly aggressive” language used by western envoys pushing for a resolution condemning Syria’s bloody crackdown on demonstrators.