BEIRUT

Middle East

New photos show further proof of alleged regime torture

  • This image taken from UNTV via APTN shows Amhad al-Jarba, the head of Syria's Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, holding up an image of alleged torture victims, during the Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday Jan. 22, 2014. (AP Photo/UNTV via APTN)

BEIRUT: A second cache of graphic photographs of alleged victims of Syrian detainees, allegedly tortured and killed by Syrian government authorities, has been released.

Hundreds of photographs obtained by the Anadolu news agency were published online Wednesday and Thursday.

The agency says the photographs amount to further evidence of war crimes committed by the regime.

The release follows the publication Monday of a leaked report by a team of global war crimes experts based on over 55,000 photographs of over 11,000 prisoners showing signs of torture and abuse, and the testimony of a defected military police officer who smuggled them out of Syria.

The report, in which three prominent international lawyers concluded “systematic torture” had been committed against prisoners between March 2011 and August 2013, was leaked to The Guardian newspaper, CNN and Anadolu, just ahead of the start of international peace talks in Switzerland between the Syrian regime and its opponents.

The latest photographs show grisly images of naked and emaciated corpses, tied and bundled in what appears to be an outdoor yard.

Others show images of disfigured corpses covered in burn marks. Some have their eyes gouged out. Another features a corpse with burned genitals.

Anadolu news agency said it is believed the photographs were taken at military bases near Damascus.

The photographs have served to add pressure on the Syrian government at talks underway in Switzerland and demands for access to Syrian prisons by the International Red Cross. The head of the mainstream opposition National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, held up the photographs during his opening address in Montreux Wednesday.

However, Syria rejected the reports as “politicized,” saying their release was timed to undermine the peace efforts.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday told CNN while the photographs undoubtedly showed crimes had been committed, more analysis was needed before assigning blame.

“These are all sad pictures and sad consequences of the existing [Syrian] conflict,” Medvedev told CNN. “But I would like to repeat that all those crimes should have firm legal proof.”

“We need to have the full protocol of the crimes, create the database of proof and use it for the future.”

Meanwhile, the head of the legal committee of the National Coalition, Haitham Maleh, said Thursday the coalition had filed a lawsuit against Syrian President Bashar Assad to The International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Maleh told opposition website Zaman al-Wasl that the report, which has been submitted to the ICC, documented hundreds of war crimes committed by the regime.

Tuesday, the Anadolu offices in Aleppo in northern Syria were attacked and overrun by masked men believed to be affiliated with the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

A journalist with the agency confirmed the attack, adding one activist from Aleppo had been killed in the assault, but declined to speculate on the reason behind the incident.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 24, 2014, on page 6.
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Summary

A second cache of graphic photographs of alleged victims of Syrian detainees, allegedly tortured and killed by Syrian government authorities, has been released.

Hundreds of photographs obtained by the Anadolu news agency were published online Wednesday and Thursday.

The agency says the photographs amount to further evidence of war crimes committed by the regime.

The release follows the publication Monday of a leaked report by a team of global war crimes experts based on over 55,000 photographs of over 11,000 prisoners showing signs of torture and abuse, and the testimony of a defected military police officer who smuggled them out of Syria.

The photographs have served to add pressure on the Syrian government at talks underway in Switzerland and demands for access to Syrian prisons by the International Red Cross.


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