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Official: American arrested in Syria

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:00 PM EST, Fri January 20, 2012
Abdelkader Chaar, 22, is a medical student in Syria, his uncle says.
Abdelkader Chaar, 22, is a medical student in Syria, his uncle says.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Consular access has not been provided, a State Department official says
  • Abdelkader Chaar, 22, is a medical student in Syria, says his uncle
  • The family has not been told why Chaar was arrested
  • The United States is in touch with Syrian authorities

(CNN) -- The U.S. government confirmed Friday the arrest of a U.S. citizen in Syria, a State Department official said.

Consular access has not been provided, said the official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Abdelkader Chaar, 22, is thought to have been arrested in Aleppo, Syria, on January 8.

Chaar was born in Syracuse, New York, moved to Aleppo with his parents when he was a boy and is currently a medical student at Aleppo University, his uncle said. His family has not been told why he was arrested, said Sam Chaar, who spoke to CNN from Arizona.

His family has been in contact with the U.S. Embassy in Damascus and has reached out to Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the elder Chaar said.

News of the arrest surfaced as anti-government ferment raged in the country.

Protesters on Friday focused their attention on political prisoners and demanded the release of detainees. At least 10 people were slain in clashes Friday, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition activist group.

For more than 10 months, Syria has been in the throes of an anti-government public uprising and a brutal security crackdown against protesters. The United Nations last month estimated well over 5,000 deaths have occurred since mid-March. Opposition groups estimate more than 6,000 people have died.

Also, the Arab League is considering an extension of its monitoring mission to see if the government is adhering to an agreement to end the violence.

The Arab League has called on President Bashar al-Assad's regime to stop violence against civilians, free political detainees, remove tanks and weapons from cities and allow outsiders, including the international news media, to travel freely around Syria.

CNN's Jeremy Ryan contributed to this report.

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