Experts say a horrific new report out of Syria may prove widespread torture at the hands of the Assad regime.
A report released to The Guardian and CNN, alleges the systematic killing of some 11,000 prisoners. The photos reportedly were smuggled out of the country on a USB drive by a photographer who defected from the Syrian military.
There are two reasons, according to the report, the bodies were photographed: “First to permit a death certificate to be produced without families requiring to see the body, thereby avoiding the authorities having to give a truthful account of their deaths; second to confirm that orders to execute individuals had been carried out." (Via The Guardian)
The report, prepared by three former war crimes prosecutors and several forensic pathologists, details what they say are signs of starvation, beatings, strangulation. (Via Channel 4)
The authors say their findings could support war crimes charges against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has long denied accusations of torture and mass killings. (Via CBS)
“This is evidence that would be capable of proving mass killing by higher ups and authorities within the regime.” (Via CNN)
Neither The Guardian nor CNN was able to independently verify the authenticity of the photos, but said they relied on the expertise of those who analyzed them.
Both sides in Syria’s conflict have been accused of atrocities during the nearly three-year-long war, but human rights groups say if confirmed, this report is the best proof yet of large-scale killing by government forces. (Via YouTube /تنسيقية كفربطن ا )
NADIM HOURY: “If these photos are authentic, it would give us an idea of the scale of the torture, in that we’ve only scratched the surface.” (Via Al Jazeera)
The report was released just two days before the start of peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland aimed at ending the war. Some experts say if the report is confirmed, it would significantly undermine the regime’s hand in negotiations.
But Time’s Aryn Baker warns the report could actually the opposite of their intended effect.
“The threat of a war-crimes trial could have the perverse effect of steeling Assad’s resolve to stay in power no matter the cost.”
The report was commissioned by the government of Qatar, which has supported and funded the Syrian opposition and called for the prosecution of Assad.