Syrian government denies US accusation of crematorium at prison

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

The United States believes the crematorium would be used to cover up mass murders at the prison and will present the evidence to the global community, Jones said.

The allegation came as President Donald Trump is weighing options in Syria, where the USA attacked a government air base last month in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians.

The State Department official said that "since Syria's civil conflict began in 2011, the Assad regime has treated opposition forces and unarmed civilians as one and the same - committing widespread violations of worldwide law, including the law of armed conflict and human rights law".

And he said he hoped to work with Putin, whose forces are in Syria to protect Assad's regime, in this goal.

Netanyahu's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Citing "credible sources" and data gathered by nongovernmental organizations, Jones stated that between 2011 and 2015, the Assad regime abducted and detained as many as 117,000 people and killed as many as 50 detainees a day at Saydnaya.

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The State Department handed out to reporters what it said is newly declassified photo evidence from 2013 and 2017 to support its claim of the building being repurposed into a crematorium. He criticized Russian Federation and Iran for maintaining their support for Assad despite those tactics.

The revelations echoed a February report by Amnesty International that said Syria's military police hanged as many as 13,000 people in four years before carting out bodies by the truckload for burial in mass graves.

Jones added that in view of the new information on mass killings, Russia's calls for "de-escalation zones" in Syria should be met with "skepticism". Gallant reportedly made the remark a day after reports emerged about Assad's regime possibly using a crematorium at a prison near Damascus as a venue for mass killings.

"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", Jones said.

"As Jews, we are particularly shocked by the extreme brutality of the Syrian regime, which invokes the worst nightmares of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people", Greenblatt said Tuesday in a statement. It said the government of President Bashar al-Assad then uses the crematorium to destroy the bodies. Assessment of the facility, he said, included the presence of "the discharge stack, the probable firewall, the probable air intake - this is in the construction phase - this would be consistent if they were building a crematorium". One photograph taken in January 2015 shows one area of the building's roof cleared of snow due to melt.

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