A defector has smuggled over 55,000 photos out of Syria which allegedly document the systematic abuse and torture of prisoners by the Bashar al-Assad regime. The photos, which are extremely graphic, contain images of burned corpses, bodies with their eyes torn out, bruisings, strangle wounds, and electrocution. The “war-crime” photos have outraged observers as the peace talks in Geneva are underway, with the international community looking for ways to convince Assad’s government in halting fighting against the rebels.
All in all, it is said that the photographs document at the least 11,000 prisoners who were captured, tortured and killed during Syria’s 3 year long civil war, while a number of other photos show other regime atrocities, such as barrel bombed cities and homes. Other war-crime acts such as the chemical weapons attacks from August 21st are said to be chronicled in this dossier of photographs. The August 21st attack resulted in the death of 1,300 people, as well as 3,600 others who displayed “neurotoxic symptoms” which often involve choking, vomiting, and foaming from the mouth.
The defector who took the torture photographs was a former military police photographer who once worked under Bashar al-Assad. He managed to flee from the country and has released the photos to the UN, and various governments and human rights groups around the world. The defector hopes that the evidence will help file a case against Bashar al-Assad for war crimes committed during Syria’s civil war.
Foreign Secretary William Hague, who reviewed the report detailing Assad’s torture techniques said it was “compelling and horrific” and that actions must be taken to hold those responsible for the crimes.
It is said that the defector, only known as Caesar, had planned on escaping Syria back in 2011, only 7 months into the conflict, after discovering one of his relatives had done the same. He relayed thousands of images to the refugee relative, only to realize he may meet the same fate if he stayed in Syria and continued to share the photographs abroad. Quickly he arranged for the Syrian opposition to smuggle him and his family out of the country, something which has allowed him to go public with his evidence.
Caesar was hired to take photographs of the torture and corpses so that the regime could bypass bringing in relatives to see the battered corpses in person.
Meanwhle the Syrian opposition in Geneva has taken a hardline stance against Bashar al-Assad, saying that they will not settle for anything less than Assad’s resignation and indictment. “We will not accept less than the removal of the criminal Bashar al-Assad and changing the regime and holding the murderers accountable.” said Badr Jamous, Secretary General of the National Coalition representing the Syrian rebels at the negotiation table.
Such a war of words between the rebels and the Syrian government is said to have produced little to no progress moving forward. Both sides have only inflamed the other, muddying the waters for a potential ceasefire and only escalating the conflict. As rebel groups from around the region swoop in to cease power in the political vacuum, rebel groups find themselves fighting each other, as well as Assad’s army.
Caesar’s photographs is among some of the first hard evidence of Assad’s war crimes since allegations began following the chemical weapons attacks back in 2013.
Jamous added “The images that we saw in the last few days indicate that tis regime does not deserve less than being sent to stand trial in front of the International Criminal Court.”
by John Amaruso