Washington – While all eyes were directed Monday night on the latest preparations ahead of the sixth round of the Syrian talks in Geneva, the US Department of State uncovered reports and photos documenting the involvement of the Syrian regime in “atrocities” committed in several prisons, including mass murders, sexual violence, and the building of a crematorium in the Saydnaya prison, located on the outskirts of Damascus, to cover up crimes and incinerate bodies since 2013.
In a press conference from the Department of State in Washington, Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs said: “Today, we are releasing newly declassified reporting and photos that underscore the depths to which the Syrian regime has gone with the continuing support of its allies Russia and Iran.”
Jones added that the Bashar Assad regime continues to “treat opposition forces and unarmed civilians as one and the same, committing widespread violations of international law.”
He said the continued brutality of the Assad regime, including its use of chemical weapons, “presents a clear threat to regional stability and security as well as to the national security interests of the US and our allies.”
The Acting Assistant Secretary also confirmed the presence of mass murders in the Saydnaya prison.
“Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium, as shown in the photos that we have distributed to you.”
When asked how many of the bodies are being disposed of in mass graves, Jones said between 5,000 and 11,000 people had been killed in Saydnaya between 2011 and 2015.
He said that at this point, the US is talking about this evidence and bringing it forward to the international community, which it hopes will put pressure on the regime to change its behavior.
According to the UN and credible human rights organizations, the Syrian civil war has claimed more than 400,000 lives, many of which are civilians.