According to the U.S. State Department, the Syrian regime is using a building near Damascus to cremate the bodies of prisoners.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones shared surveillance pictures that show a building believed by the State Dept. to be a crematorium. They say some of the people the Syrian regime abducted, jailed and murdered over the course of the civil war have been cremated there.
Jones says the photo, along with intelligence assessments and additional reports, have convinced officials that Bashar Assad’s Syrian government is helping to cover up evidence of mass killings at the Sednaya Prison.
“Although the regime’s many atrocities are well-documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Sednaya prison,” Jones said Monday.
According to the State Department, a building in the prison complex that was modified to be a crematorium can be identified in their satellite images. The images have been taken over time, since 2013, and they show construction consistent with the building’s use as a crematorium, as well as showing snow melting near the building. The State Department could not say definitively that the melting was due cremations being performed there.
The Sednaya Prison has been called a “human slaughterhouse” by Amnesty International, who estimate that 13,000 people were killed there from 2011-2015. The conditions there are believed to be “horrific.” There are reports that 70 prisoners may be kept in cells designed for 5 prisoners and that the prison may be performing up to 50 executions per day.
Also between 2011-2015, Assad’s regime is believed to have kidnapped over 100,000 people. The Sednaya Prison is said to hold some of them, including Assad’s political opponents and violent Syrian rebels.
According to Jones, the photographs prove that Syrian President Assad’s government “has sunk to a new level of depravity.”
Jones also said that the “atrocities” at the prison have been allowed “with unconditional support” from Russia and Iran. He called on those countries to use their influence with Syria to help negotiate a ceasefire and begin peace talks.
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