State Department: Syria Using Crematorium to Hide Atrocities

Dozens of people, including at least ten children, have been killed and more than 200 injured in a suspected chemical attack in northern Syria, multiple activist groups claim.

Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said U.S. officials believe the crematorium could be used to dispose of bodies at a prison where they believe President Assad's government authorised the mass hangings of thousands of inmates during Syria's six-year-old civil war.

But the decision to release newly declassified information supporting the allegation may also test the Trump administration's own willingness to respond to atrocities in Syria, other than chemical weapons attacks, which it blames on President Bashar al-Assad's government. Numerous bodies, it said, are then being burned in the crematorium.

"These atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support from Russian Federation and Iran", Jones said.

Jones said the regime could be killing as many as 50 detainees a day at Saydnaya.

Jones' remarks came three months after a report by Amnesty International in February that outlined various abuses by the Syrian government at Sednaya and called the prison a "human slaughterhouse".

It wasn't the first time foreign reports speak about Saydnaya.

Amnesty said such practices amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Support for Assad in Moscow and Tehran is "seemingly unconditional", Jones said.

Jones, an acting assistant secretary of state, said Washington's information came from credible humanitarian agencies and from the U.S. "intelligence community" - implying that classified evidence beyond the commercial pictures exists.

"In light of the failures of the past ceasefire agreements, we have reason to be sceptical", Mr Jones said.

Galant said that as bad as Syria was, it was just a minor player in the drama of evil unfolding in the Middle East - and that when Assad was gone, the next target needed to be his sponsor, Iran.

Although the pictures do not prove that the building is a crematorium, it does show construction consistent with such use.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the group's national director, also called on the worldwide community, including Russian Federation, to take action to stop the violence perpetuated by the Syrian government under the leadership of President Bashar Assad. The war has killed as many as 400,000 people since 2011, contributed to Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II and enabled terror group ISIS to emerge as a global threat.

"In addition to air strikes, the regime continues to systematically abduct and torture civilian detainees, often beating, electrocuting and raping these victims", he noted.

Jones said that the Assad government, in his words, "has treated opposition forces and unarmed civilians as one and the same - committing widespread violations of global law, including the law of armed conflict and human rights law".

Jones said the regime has also authorized the extra judicial killings of thousands of detainees at Saydnaya, which is a 45-minute drive outside of Damascus.

At Saydnaya, Syria holds up to 70 prisoners in cells that are meant for five, Jones alleged.

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