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Syrian govt denies US claim of crematorium at prison

19 May 2017, 08:22 | Taylor George

Syrian govt denies US claim of crematorium at prison

Bashar al-Jaafari Syrian chief negotiator and Ambassador of the Permanent Representative Mission of Syria to the UN New York center arrives for another round of negotiations with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staff

The United States has evidence the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has built a crematorium at a large military prison outside the capital Damascus, a State Department official said on May 15.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement Monday the "legislation is needed now more than ever", citing the Trump administration's assertion that the Assad regime was systematically burning the bodies of executed inmates at the Saydnaya military prison to cover up the mass murders.

Western monitors and watchdog groups say they have accumulated evidence of mass killings in Syrian prisons, though there have not been any substantiated allegations so far of the use of a crematorium.

On Monday, the U.S. State Department confirmed that such a thing exists, and that it has been used to dispose of the bodies of an estimated 50 prisoners a day, hanged at the nearby Saydnaya military prison.

Neither the Assad regime nor the Russian government has responded to the charge so far, but State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters that the administration believes the US and Russia share a goal in Syria for a "unified and stable nation", achieved through diplomatic and political means.

He said the US claim is based on information from its intelligence community and credible humanitarian groups.

"The bodies were then being cremated in order to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place", said Stuart Jones, the top USA diplomat for the Middle East.

U.S. officials said the crematorium was built to hide evidence of Assad's political executions in Sednaya - "an effort to cover up the extent of mass atrocities" there, Jones said.

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The State Department official did not offer an official estimate of how many people had been killed in Saydnaya, but pointed to an Amnesty International report saying that between 5,000 and 11,000 had been killed in the prison from 2011 to 2015.

In Washington DC, on Monday morning, the United States have pointed the massive scale mass killing of Syrian people by their government and even ISIS.

"Successive US administrations have repeatedly fabricated lies and allegations to justify their aggressive and interventionist policies in other sovereign countries", the ministry said.

The disclosures come one week after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

De Mistura met with Syrian government negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari Tuesday, followed by the opposition High Negotiations Committee.

A former Syrian army colonel who joined the opposition said what the State Department revealed about Saydnaya "is not surprising".

During his briefing, Jones presented photographs showing some evidence of the building believed to be a crematorium.



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