Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has built and is using a crematorium inside his military prison complex to dispose of the prisoners executed at the facility in an attempt to hide evidence of mass killings, the State Department said.
The Syrian government is believed to be executing at least 50 prisoners a day at the Saydnaya military prison outside Damascus, sometimes by mass hangings, Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern Affairs, told reporters Monday at a State Department briefing.
“Although the regimes’ many atrocities are well-documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison,” Jones said.
Jones said the information came from recently-declassified “intelligence assessments” as well as human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations.
Jones added that the regime will pack 70 prisoners in a cell meant for five people before they kill them. The State Department said they released this information to pressure Russia, a country that has supported Assad, to denounce the Syrian regime and take action.
“Russia holds tremendous influence over Bashar al-Assad,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told the Washington Examiner Monday. “The killing and devastation has gone on for far too long in Syria.”
Amnesty International released a report on the military prison in February, dubbing it a “human slaughterhouse,” and said that 13,000 Syrians had been hung at the prison between 2011 and 2015.
Assad dismissed the report on mass hangings as “fake news,” but the international community has condemned Assad’s regime for how it handles freedom and human rights issues.