The brutal methods used in a devastating Syrian security operation in the western town of Tell Kalakh may constitute crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said today in a new report.This is just the story in just one town.
Crackdown in Syria: Terror in Tell Kalakh documents deaths in custody, torture and arbitrary detention that took place in May when Syrian army and security forces mounted a broad security sweep, lasting less than a week, against residents of the town near the Lebanese border.
“The accounts we have heard from witnesses to events in Tell Kalakh paint a deeply disturbing picture of systematic, targeted abuses to crush dissent,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.
...Twenty year-old “Mahmoud”, who was arrested on 16 May and released after nearly a month in detention, was held for around five days at the Military Security detention facility in Homs:
“Each day [was] the same story. They tied me up in the shabah position and applied electricity to my body and testicles. Sometimes I screamed very loudly and begged the interrogator to stop. He didn’t care.”
At least nine people died in custody after being arrested during the security operation in Tell Kalakh, according to witnesses. Eight of these men – some of whom had been active in demonstrations – were shot at and wounded as they were ordered out of a house, and were then taken away by soldiers.
It was only around two weeks later that relatives were told to go to a military hospital to identify the bodies of the eight men. Witnesses said the bodies had marks on them which suggested torture, including cuts to the chest, long vertical slashes on the thighs and what seemed to be gunshot wounds on the back of the legs.
A forensic pathologist analysed a photograph of one of the men, Abd al-Rahman Abu Libdeh, for Amnesty International and concluded that he seemed to have sustained violent injuries to the face, shoulders and neck while still alive.
Some of the family members who went to identify the bodies of their sons said they were forced to sign a document stating that their sons were killed by armed gangs.
The report notes that "The security operation prompted thousands of people to flee to Lebanon, some of whom were shot at as they fled. "