The following is an excerpt from CONOR FINNEGAN | May 15, 2017 | abcnews.go.com |
The U.S. is accusing Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria of killing thousands of people from 2011 to 2015 and using a crematorium to dispose of their bodies. While Assad allies Russia and Iran may not have had anything to do with the crematorium, they are complicit in the brutal dictator's many other atrocities, according to the U.S.
The Trump administration says the regime has killed as many as 50 people a day at the Saydnaya prison complex in that period, and beginning in 2013, it turned a building on the compound into a crematorium.
"Although the regime's atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison," said Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs. "We are appalled by the atrocities that have been carried out by the Syrian regime, and these atrocities have been carried out seemingly with the unconditional support of Russia and Iran."
Jones called on Russia in particular to hold the Assad regime accountable.
"Russia must now with great urgency exercise its influence over the Syrian regime to guarantee that horrific violations stop now," he added.
To support the claim today, Jones cited reports from international monitoring groups, the press and U.S. intelligence — including new satellite photos the State Department distributed to the press. The photos allegedly show construction over the course of several years at Saydnaya that would be consistent with a crematorium, with features like ventilation equipment, a discharge stack and a firewall.
The U.S. has not presented this evidence to the Russian government yet, according to Jones, but he added that last week's talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Washington gave the administration hope that Russia will comply.
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