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‘A new level of depravity’: State Department accuses Syria of covering up mass executions

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime is being accused Monday by the State Department of conducting mass executions and trying to conceal these executions by burning the bodies. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. State Department accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime Monday of conducting mass executions and trying to conceal these executions by burning the bodies, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reported that the State Department said it believes that approximately 50 detainees a day are executed at the Saydnaya military prison outside Damascus.

Citing information from non-governmental organizations, press reports, and intelligence community assessments, Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of near eastern affairs, told reporters that the department believes that civilians are abused in the facility, alleging they are beaten and kept in overcrowded cells. He said that they believe many of the detainees are hanged, and then their bodies are burned in a crematorium.

Jones said that commercial satellite photographs show what the State Department believes is a crematorium at the prison facility.

“We believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison,” he said.

According to the New York Times, evidence for the allegations “remains circumstantial,” The Times reported:

Satellite photographs of the complex show that while nearby buildings were covered in snow, the roof of the building suspected to be a crematory was free of snow, suggesting a significant internal heat source.

Jones also noted that Syria enjoys “the continuing support of its allies, Russia and Iran” and the regime’s brutality stands in contrast with the interests of the United States.

The U.S. has previously said that Assad is responsible for chemical weapons attacks on his own people.

Jones said that Assad’s government “has sunk to a new level of depravity.” He called for Russia to use its influence to stop Assad and the alleged executions.

Jones’ statement comes after the Trump administration ordered an airstrike on a Syrian airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians. The Trump administration said Assad’s government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack that left dozens of people — including children — dead.

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