According to the U.S. State Department, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad not only tortures and kills detained prisoners en masse ― it also disposes of them in one of the most undignified ways imaginable.
“We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Sednaya prison complex which could dispose of prison detainees’ remains with little evidence,” Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, said at a news conference on Monday.
Beginning in 2013, the regime is believed to have “modified a building” in the prison complex to support what appears to be a crematorium, Jones said. It represents an “effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Sednaya prison.”
The Syrian government denied the United States’ accusation on Tuesday, calling it a “new Hollywood story detached from reality.”
The Sednaya complex, located about 45 minutes outside of Damascus, is Syria’s largest and most secure prison. It’s been the site of extrajudicial killings and mass hangings since the war began, Jones said. Authorities kill as many as 50 detainees every day.
Authorities reportedly executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people in Sednaya from 2011 to 2015, according to an Amnesty International report released in February. Amnesty’s research led them to deem the prison a “human slaughterhouse” where crimes against humanity occur regularly.
The regime deploys torture tactics including beatings, electrocution and rape, to name a few, Jones said.
Outside of prisons, Assad’s regime been known to hammer cities like Aleppo with airstrikes, launch chemical-weapon attacks, starve civilians, commit sexual violence and deny services like water and medical care, Jones noted. An estimated 400,000 people have died in the Syrian war, according to the United Nations.
This story has been updated to include the Syrian government’s denial of the United States’ accusations.