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Is Syria Using a Crematorium to Dispose of Prisoners?
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Syria crematorium

Summary: The State Department has released photo evidence supporting the claims that Syria built a crematorium at their primary prison to get dispose of prisoner bodies.

The State Department has a strong and, if true, troubling accusation against the Syrian government. They claim that Syria has built and is using a crematorium at the Sednaya military prison near Damascus to dispose of its prisoner’s bodies executed inside the facility.


Acting Assistant Secretary of State Stuart Jones said prison has placed the bodies of thousands of executed detainees into mass graves over the past several years. “What we’re assessing is that if you have that level of production of mass murder, then using the crematorium would…allow the regime to manage that number of corpses…without evidence,” Jones explained. “We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Sednaya prison.”

Jones continued in his address to reporters to state the Syrian government “has treated opposition forces and unarmed civilians as one and the same” with the action to “systematically abduct and torture civilian detainees, often beating, electrocuting and raping these victims” as well as approval in “the extrajudicial killings of thousands.”

In overhead photographs passed out by the State Department, the documented evidence of the gradual construction of a facility outside the main prison complex can be seen. The department claims they have started using the building this year. The “newly-declassified” information and claims of additional crimes by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime comes from “intelligence community assessments” and from other non-governmental organizations like the media and Amnesty International. Jones continues to say that “these atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russia and Iran.”

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The use of a crematorium elicits memories of the Holocaust and the Hitler regime. The repeat of such an attack on a group of people seemed like an impossibility with current human rights groups established to warn other nations but when Russian leaders flounce around like nothing is wrong, it makes it hard to validate the allegations. President Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a presentation of smiling faces and handshakes to discuss the Syrian issue. Jones clarified that they had not shared this information with the Russians nor does he claim that Russia or Iran is directly involved.

Included in the Russians visit was a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Jones said Tillerson “was firm and clear with Minister Lavrov. Russia holds tremendous influence over Bashar al-Assad. A key point that took place in the bilateral meeting was telling Russia to use its power to rein in the regime. The regime must stop all attacks on civilians and opposition forces, and Russia must bear responsibility to ensure regime compliance.”

The State Department believes the building is a crematorium because of the presence of a “discharge stack, the probable firewall, and probable air intake – this is in the construction phase – this would be consistent if they were building a crematorium.” In one photo, the building is covered with snow, a later photo, the snow on top of the building has melted away.

When asked what the Trump administration plans to do with the information, Jones said, “At this point, we are talking about this evidence and bringing it forward to the international community, which we hope will put pressure on the regime to change its behavior.”

The United Nations reports that over 400,000 people have died during the Syrian civil war so far. At least half of the population before the war started of 22 million have either left the country has refugees or are otherwise displaced from their homes. Jones explained that many of those that have died are civilians killed by government action such as “well-documents airstrikes and artillery strikes, chemical weapons attacks, arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, starvation, sexual violence, and denial of essential services such as food, water and medical care.”

Reports from Amnesty International and other organizations allege that between 65,000 and 117,000 people have been abducted or detained since 2011. Amnesty International further claims that 18,000 of those have died. The Syrian Network for Human Rights says that in just March, at least 106,727 people have been arrested or forcibly disappeared. There are a number of prisons across the country but Amnesty International describes Sednaya prison as a “human slaughterhouse” where as many as 50 detainees are killed each day after being held in cells made for five people but actually hold 70 people. Former prisoners have reported mass hangings at the center.

What action do you think the United States should take with this information? Tell us what you would like to see in the comments below.

To learn more about what has been happening in Syria, read these articles:




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