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Report: 198 Syrians tortured to death in August

Image of Syrian civilians finding refuge after Assad Regime forces carried out airstrikes in Damascus, Syria on 15 February [Hamza Adnan - Anadolu Agency]
Syrian civilians try to find refuge after Assad Regime carried out air strikes in Damascus, Syria [Hamza Adnan - Anadolu Agency]

At least 198 people died as a result of torture in Syria last month, all but four of whom were killed by regime forces, according to a report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

The latest figure marks a substantial drop from July, when 547 died due to torture in detention, but an increase since earlier this year, which saw an average of only ten deaths a month. SNHR obtains the information largely through speaking to former detainees or families of the deceased, many of whom bribe officials in order to learn of the fate of their loved ones.

The report notes that international law prohibits torture and other forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, legislation that the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad has persistently violated.

“The norm of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ must be implemented in light of the government’s failure to protect its people, and the fruitlessness of the diplomatic and peaceful efforts so far.”

Crimes against humanity and war crimes are being perpetrated every day in Syria and mainly at the hands of the organs of the state itself

SNHR Chairman Fadel Abdul Ghany said of the revelations.

Of the four deaths not committed by government forces, Daesh was responsible for one, with US-backed Kurdish militias responsible for another. Two were committed by parties that could not be identified.

Read: 1,000 Iraqis, Syrians killed by US-led coalition: Report

Notable among the dead include Doctor Abdul Ghafour Khlasi, a co-founder of Al-Zarzour Hospital in Aleppo city and young athlete Mahmoud Al-Ali, a local football star. Teachers and university students were also among the detainees, as well as one child, 16-year-old Mahmoud Asaad Al-Haj, who was captured by Syrian regime forces in March and is suspected to have died from torture in July.

The report called on the UN to apply pressure on Al-Assad to implement Security Council resolutions that affirm the right for detainees to be protected from abuse. It also called on Russia to stop preventing the referral of Syrian state crimes to the International Criminal Court. The report addressed relief agencies and humanitarian organisations, appealing for them to deliver aid to the families of the deceased and aid their rehabilitation.

#WarInSyria

SNHR revealed last month that some 82,000 Syrians have been forcibly disappeared by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad since the start of the conflict, with over 14,000 listed as having died in detention. Former detainees have testified to the conditions of their imprisonment, with dozens narrating their experiences of brutal torture in the regime’s “slaughterhouse”.

Some 391 people, including 275 civilians were killed in Syria in last month. The report records that 6,036 civilians has been killed since the start of 2018; forces allied to the Syrian government were responsible for the deaths of 4,419.

Read: 3,800 Palestinians killed in Syria since 2011

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