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U.S. Officials: Mass Crematorium Where Up To 13,000 Assad Opponents Disposed Of Found

May 15, 2017

U.S. officials believe the Syrian government could be disposing dead bodies at a crematorium the government built at a military prison outside Damascus, according to Reuters.

United States officials believe the crematorium, built by the government under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is being “used to dispose of bodies” at the prison, which is also “where they believe Assad’s government authorized the mass hangings of thousands of inmates during Syria’s six-year-old civil war,” according to Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, the article reported.

” ‘Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves,’ Jones told reporters. During the briefing, he showed aerial images of what he said was a crematorium,” the report said. ” ‘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.’ ”

In February, Amnesty International reported an average of 20 to 50 people being hanged each week at the Sednaya prison, and it said between 5,000 and 13,000 people were executed there “in the four years since a popular uprising descended into war,” according to Reuters.

This does not help the situation regarding the de-escalation zones inside the country, which is plagued by various humanitarian crises.

Jones said he was “not optimistic” about said zones inside Syria, according to the report.

“The deal [for de-escalation zones] was [brokered by Russia and] reached with support from Iran and Turkey during ceasefire talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana earlier this month,” according to Reuters, and “Jones attended the talks.”

According to Jones, Assad’s government “has carried out air strikes, chemical attacks, extrajudicial killings, starvation and other measures to target civilians and its opponents,” Reuters reported; Jones also “criticized Russia and Iran for maintaining their support for Assad despite those tactics.”

” ‘These atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran,’ Jones said,” according to the report.. ” ‘The (Assad) regime must stop all attacks on civilian and opposition forces. And Russia must bear responsibility to ensure regime compliance.”

Jones did not speak to what the United States might do against the country, were Russia not to change its stance, Reuters reported.

President Donald Trump had ordered a missile strike against a Syrian air base in April, which the U.S. said launched a gas attack on civilians, and “tensions between the United States and Russia heightened” following the strike, Reuters reported.