A Russian-government aligned news agency has perhaps indirectly confirmed that Assad regime forces are dumping the corpses of "women and children" into the Mediterranean Sea.
In a report published earlier this week, Sputnik News' Arabic edition published a report that quoted a Russian mariner involved in Moscow's Syria intervention, claiming that "terrorists" were killing civilians and then disposing of their bodies in the sea.
"[Russian] naval forces regularly find the corpses of civilians who were savagely killed by the terrorists near the northern coast of Syria, most of them women and children," the unnamed Russian naval officer said.
Moscow and its ally, President Bashar Al-Assad, frequently brand all Syrian opposition forces as "terrorists" whether they are Daesh or not.
The Russian mariner also said: "[The corpses] are recovered on board ships to be transported to Tartous so that they may be buried in accordance with Islamic law.
Tartous is a coastal town that is home to a Russian naval base that is reportedly being expanded into a more permanent facility for a Russian fleet to be based in.
No coastal holdings for Syrian opposition
There are a number of concerns that have been raised with the Russian report, however.
The Syrian opposition factions, including groups such as Daesh and Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, formerly the Al-Nusra Front, have no coastal holdings or territories. In fact, the Syrian opposition and various armed rebel groups are all based in in-land Syria.
In comments to MEMO, Syrian journalist Muhammad Fares said: "It's as if the besieged 'terrorists' in the inner cities have giant catapults to throw the bodies hundreds of kilometres from Raqqa or Aleppo into the coastal waters around Latakia."
Fares accused the Russians of misinformation, explaining that "the Russian media is putting such a piece out because they are counting on 'Syria news fatigue' and so they think they can get away with it."
"The so-called 'terrorists' that Russia are talking about are besieged…and there is no link between [rebel-held territory] and the sea in any way," Fares told MEMO, placing much doubt on the Russian claim.
"Putin's and Assad's media outlets live in la-la land…Assad's army [are the ones] who throw [their] opponents' bodies into the Mediterranean," the Syrian journalist concluded.
The Syrian regime has been responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths since the civil war erupted in 2011. The UN has said that 400,000 Syrians have lost their lives in the conflict, and recent attempts to end the conflict have failed, leading to intensified violence against opposition-held Aleppo.