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State Department: Assad trying to cover up mass killings in Syria
16 May 2017, 10:20 | Jan Cross
US accuses Syria of mass executions and burning the bodies
The Syrian regime has built a crematorium 45 minutes outside of Damascus where the US government believes they are burning the bodies of the thousands of prisoners executed inside the walls of the Saydnaya military prison - an institution nicknamed "the slaughterhouse".
The State Department said about 50 detainees a day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes from Damascus. Jones, who offered overhead photos of the reported crematorium, said evidence was culled from "intelligence assessments", as well as human rights and other sources.
Jones explained that while "credible sources have believed that numerous bodies have been disposed in mass graves", a building in the prison complex had been altered, The Daily Mail reported.
Although the photos, taken over several years starting from 2013, do not definitively prove the building is a crematorium, they do show construction consistent with such use. A photograph of the building from January 2015, shows the building as the lone one in the complex with no snow on its roof.
There's no evidence backing these claims up, of course, apart from satellite photos on the outside of the crematorium, and USA officials rather just rehashed a series of things they think may well be happening in Syrian prison, including torture and rape, followed up with a speedy execution and disposal.
Thousands of executed detainees have been dumped in mass graves in recent years, acting Assistant Secretary of State Stuart Jones said.
"The regime must stop all attacks on civilians and opposition forces", Jones said.
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"These atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russian Federation and Iran", Jones said.
"Russia and Iran, the government's closest allies, must press for an end to these murderous detention policies". "A key point that took place in that bilateral meeting was telling Russian Federation to use its power to rein in the regime".
The unusually direct and graphic State Department case laying out the horrors committed by the Syrian regime was meant to bolster Washington's appeal to the Assad regime's chief foreign sponsors to use their influence to rein him in, officials and experts said.
A judge who claims to have witnessed hangings at the prison says victims are taken to a separate building, beaten and killed.
But tensions between Washington and Moscow heightened after Trump ordered a cruise missile strike in April against a Syrian air base that the United States said had been used to launch a poison gas attack on civilians. Scores more suffered systematic torture, it said.
Jones said that despite the talks last week between Tillerson and Lavrov, he "would not say they have mapped a way forward on how to address Syrian atrocities or how to move forward on the Geneva process", which is meant to help establish a political settlement to the conflict.
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