However, the AOHR statement on Wednesday, a copy of which was received by Aljazeera, said the directors of the Al-Atassi Forum for National Dialogue refused to comply because the order had not come from an appropriate authority.

The group said Atassi Forum president "Suhair al-Atassi and a member of the board of directors, Jihad Msouti, were summoned by the security services and informed of the closure of the forum".

But the "board of directors refused to comply because the decision for a closure was issued by a non-official party, and the forum will hold its next meeting on Saturday as is its custom".

The AOHR called on members of the public to attend the meeting "so that (the forum) will remain the symbol of liberty and the beacon of culture".


It also called on the authorities to "authorise the Attasi Forum and all cultural forums and human rights organisations to operate in a legal fashion".

On 24 May, Suhair Atassi and the seven other members of the forum were arrested and held for six days.

They were freed after "an inquiry focused on the violation of laws ... about the actions of certain movements that are banned in Syria", the state news agency SANA reported without providing details.

The Atassi Forum is one of a number set up during a brief political honeymoon after President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father Hafez in 2000 but is the only one still operating amid an intensifying crackdown by the authorities.