US Officials Say Syrian Regime Executing 50 Prisoners Every Day

Published May 16th, 2017 - 11:00 GMT
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (AFP/File)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (AFP/File)

The Syrian regime of President Bashar al Assad is executing dozens of prisoners per day and wiping out their remains inside a new crematorium, the U.S. Department of State said Monday.

Asst. Secretary of State for the Middle East Stuart Jones said a crematorium at the infamous Sednaya military prison is destroying the corpses at a rapid rate. Jones said at least 50 inmates at the Damascus facility are being killed daily.

Jones also showed photos of the crematorium during Monday's news briefing.

"The continued brutality of the Assad regime, including the use of chemical weapons, presents a clear threat to regional stability as well as the national security interests of the United States," he said. "The Assad regime's actions include well-documented airstrikes, chemical weapons attacks, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, starvation, sexual violence and denial of essential services."

The U.S. government has long accused Assad of a large list of human rights abuses, including multiple chemical attacks -- the most recent of which killed nearly 100 civilians and children in March, and drew a retaliatory missile strike from the United States.

Jones' remarks came three months after a report by Amnesty International in February that outlined various abuses by the Syrian government at Sednaya and called the prison a "human slaughterhouse."

"These practices, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, are authorized at the highest levels of the Syrian government," Amnesty International said in issuing the report.

Assad, though, has repeatedly denied human rights accusations as well as the use of chemical weapons.

Monday, Jones said Syria's actions have been carried out with "unconditional" support from allies Russia and Iran.

"The horrors depicted in this report reveal a hidden, monstrous campaign ... aimed at crushing any form of dissent within the Syrian population," Amnesty International Deputy Research Director Lynn Maalouf said. "Russia and Iran, the government's closest allies, must press for an end to these murderous detention policies."

The State Department said the information about the mass cremations came from human rights watchdogs and nongovernment intelligence sources.


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