Video footage has emerged showing the burning of detainees' corpses by Syrian regime forces. According to opposition news outlet Zaman al-Wasl, it obtained exclusive footage of Syrian troops setting fire to the bodies in mass graves near Al-Masmiya in the southern province of Daraa. The footage is dated between 2011 and 2013.
The outlet quoted a source as revealing that up to 100 bodies were burnt every day as part of an operation by the security and intelligence services. The corpses of prisoners who had been tortured and executed were taken by trucks to mass graves in the desert, where agents poured fuel on them and set them on fire.
The video footage, which contains graphic images of this crime against humanity, was published on YouTube yesterday before being removed by the site due to being against its community guidelines.
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) August 11, 2021
The burning of detainees' corpses may explain how tens of thousands of Syrian citizens have simply disappeared over the past decade of civil war, and even longer. While some families have been able to locate, visit and sometimes even free their family members imprisoned by the regime, usually by paying extortionate bribes, many others have been impossible to locate within the Assad regime's vast prison system.
It was reported last year that at least 14,000 Syrians have been tortured to death since 2011, almost all of them by the regime. Although some bodies have been returned to families for burial, usually as a means to create fear, the majority have not. The newly-released footage serves as evidence that they are likely to have been burnt in mass graves across the country.