The Trump administration believes the Assad regime built a crematorium at a military prison just outside the capital city of Damascus to dispose of thousands of prisoners who were executed in mass killings, a State Department official said Monday.
"Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves," Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, told reporters.
"We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Sednaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees’ remains with little evidence," he said.
The United States believes the crematorium would be used to cover up mass murders at the prison and will present the evidence to the international community, Jones said.
Amnesty International reported in February that an average of 20 to 50 people were hanged each week at the Sednaya military prison north of Damascus. Between 5,000 and 13,000 people were executed at Sednaya in the four years since a popular uprising descended into war, it said.
Jones also expressed skepticism that a deal to establish “de-escalation zones” inside the war-torn country would actually reduce violence as planned.
“In light of the failures of the past ceasefire agreements, we have reason to be skeptical," Jones said of the agreement brokered by Russia. "The [Assad] regime must stop all attacks on civilian and opposition forces. And Russia must bear responsibility to ensure regime compliance.”