State Department: Syria Using Crematorium to Hide Atrocities

Cheryl Sanders
May 24, 2017

He says construction on the alleged crematorium was finished by 2015.This satellite photograph taken on April 18 depicts what the State Department describes as a crematorium - in the bottom right of the image - built to dispose of the bodies of victims at Saydnaya military prison outside Damascus, Syria.

Jones accused Assad's government of sinking "to a new level of depravity". "Russia", Jones said. He wouldn't confirm whether the USA will take military action in response to the grisly discovery of the crematorium.

The New York Times reported the roof of the building suspected to be the crematorium has no snow on it, while nearby buildings are covered with snow - which suggests a heat source inside the building.

The Syrian ministry also referred to the accusations of barrel bombs and chemical weapons in its statement, addressing them also as false.

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.

In interviews with the Washington Post, former detainees described conditions so atrocious that many prisoners died from torture, medical neglect or starvation. A former regime photo documentarian working by the name "Caesar" has shared more than 10,000 photos of Assad's victims with the worldwide community. It is believed Assad's regime kidnapped more than 100,000 people during that time.

The US believes that roughly 50 prisoners are executed and disposed of each day, and that thousands have been burned since the crematorium was first constructed.

The Sednaya complex, located about 45 minutes outside of Damascus, is Syria's largest and most secure prison.

Jones did not give an official estimate for the total number killed at the Saydnaya facility.

Sometimes as many as 70 prisoners are crammed into cells that were meant to hold five people.

Jones said Washington's information came from credible humanitarian agencies and from the U.S. "intelligence community" and that as many as 50 people per day were thought to be executed at the Sednaya prison. It's been the site of extrajudicial killings and mass hangings since the war began, Jones said.

"At this point, we are talking about this evidence and bringing it forward to the global community, which we hope will put pressure on the [Syrian] regime to change its behavior".

"We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Sednaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees' remains with little evidence", Mr Jones said.

The timing of the public announcement suggested that the Trump administration was pressing a tougher political line on Syria, and seeking to embarrass Russian Federation and Iran - which have supported the Assad government - in an effort to press the Syrian leadership to engage in substantive negotiations. As President Donald Trump prepares to visit the region next week, both Israel and U.S. Arab allies in the Persian Gulf have stepped up pressure on the administration to confront the Syrian president and his sponsors in Iran.

During last week's meeting in Washington with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Jones said, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that "Russia must now, with great urgency, exercise its great influence over the Syrian regime".

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