"We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison," said Stuart Jones, the top U.S. diplomatic for the Middle East. The department released commercial satellite ...
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(Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)
By Karen DeYoung By Karen DeYoung May 15 at 12:56 PM
The Syrian government has constructed and is using a crematorium inside its notorious Sednaya military prison outside Damascus to clandestinely dispose of thousands of prisoners it continues to execute inside the facility, according to the State Department.
At least 50 prisoners a day are executed in the prison, some in mass hangings, said Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Middle East. A recent Amnesty International report called Sednaya a “human slaughterhouse” and said that thousands of Syrians have been abducted, detained and “exterminated” there.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad, Jones said, has carried out these atrocities and others “seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran,” his main backers.
The information, he said, came from human rights and nonovernmental sources, as well as “intelligence assessments.” He released overhead photographs of the facility.
[A journey into Syria’s secret torture wards]
Russia, Jones said, “has either aided in or passively looked away as the regime has” engaged in years of “mass murders” and other atrocities, including extensive bombing of hospitals and other health-care sites and the use of chemical weapons on both civilians and rebel forces.
During last week’s meeting in Washington with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Jones said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that “Russia must now, with great urgency, exercise its great influence over the Syrian regime.”
Jones’s remarks, made in a special State Department briefing, were notable not only for their substance but for the harsh language used to call on Russia to take action.
Karen DeYoung is associate editor and senior national security correspondent for the Washington Post.
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