Monday, 20 November, 2017

Syrian regime denies United States allegations of mass killings at prison

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura attends a meeting during Intra Syria talks at the U.N. in Geneva Switzerland Tuesday Syrian regime denies United States allegations of mass killings at prison
Kenny Thornton | 19 May, 2017, 16:24

The State Department said Monday the Assad government built a crematorium at the prison to rid itself of the bodies of the 50 or more prisoners it executes each day.

The Sednaya military prison outside Damacus as depicted in a recent Amnesty International report.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued an official statement, which says that the prison crematorium was nothing more but a "game of imagination of the USA administration".

Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said US officials believe the crematorium could be used to dispose of bodies at a prison where they believe Assad's government authorized the mass hangings of thousands of inmates during Syria's six-year-old civil war.

"We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Saydnaya prison complex, which could dispose of detainees' remains with little evidence", Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Middle East affairs, told reporters Monday.

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The White House did not immediately return a request for comment. In the briefing on May 15, Jones showed aerial images of what he said was the crematorium at the Sednaya site. The photographs, taken over the course of several years, beginning in 2013, do not prove the building is a crematorium, but show construction consistent with such use. The department also cited a February report from Amnesty International about mass hangings at Saydnaya, a report which Syrian dictator Bashar Assad angrily denounced as "fake news" at the time.

Defector Ahmad al-Hammadi added that had the global community punished Syrian authorities for such killings they carried out from the start of the uprising in 2011, "we wouldn't have reached this point".

"The regime must stop all attacks on civilians and opposition forces, and Russian Federation must bear responsibility to ensure regime compliance", said Jones. Wael Abou Rayan, a media activist in the Homs countryside, said the bombardment of Homs eased since the agreement came into force, but never completely stopped.

And outside Damascus, the Syrian Civil Defense search and rescue group said three surface-to-surface rockets struck the Hamouriya area, killing six people and wounding dozens of others, including women and children.

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