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Some of Assad’s Torture Victims

Two days before the opening of the Geneva 2 “peace conference”, which in theory is supposed to agree a transitional government for Syria without President Assad, a devastating report has been published giving evidence of Assad’s war crimes with the systematic killing of 11,000 detainees by the his regime.

The report, based on evidence provided by a former Syrian policeman, has been prepared by three well-known international lawyers, all of whom have acted as prosecutors at previous international criminal tribunals, and contains 55,000 images of dead victims, many of whom have clearly been subjected to torture.


Ligature Marks Indicate Death by Strangulation

The defector was originally a “scene of crime” investigator who has worked for the Syrian Military Police for 13 years but in 2011 when the conflict started he was redirected to photograph and document the bodies of those brought from prisons and detention centres to a military hospital.

The images the policeman, codenamed “Caesar”, and his colleagues took showed evidence of starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation, and other forms of torture and killing.

Four or five pictures were taken of each body, 55,000 images therefore pertaining to around 11,000 dead detainees.

The were 2 reasons for the photographing. Firstly, to allow the production of a death certificate without family members seeing the body and protecting the authorities from having to explain the death, and secondly to provide “evidence” that an execution order had been carried out.


The three lawyers in the enquiry team were Sir Desmond de Silva QC and Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC from the UK and Professor David M. Crane from the USA.

Both De Silva and Crane had previously been Chief Prosecutor in the Special Court on Sierra Leone convened to prosecute the former president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, on charges of  “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” (he was sentenced in May 2012 to 50 years imprisonment).

Professor Nice was the lead prosecutor in the trial of the former Yugoslavian and Serbian president Slobodan Milošević, who was also indicted on “crimes against humanity” at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, but who died from heart problems before the end of his 5 year trial.

These 3 reputable and credible investigators spent several days in January 2014 questioning “Caesar” at a location in the Middle East (probably Qatar, whose Government paid for a UK firm of solicitors to co-ordinate the investigation) and found him truthful and not prone to exaggeration.

“Caesar” admitted he had not witnessed a single torture or execution and was only involved afterwards, but sickened by what he saw he copied the images onto a flash memory drive and transmitted the pictures and documents to a family member abroad.


Evidence of Prisoners Starved to Death


The enquiry team were also backed up by forensic experts Professor Sue Black and Dr. Stuart Hamilton, plus a forensic imaging expert, Stephen Cole.

They examined the images without prior knowledge of their source and deemed the photographs as authentic, unretouched and evidence of beating, binding, restraint or other physical assault but “excluding injuries that could reasonably have occurred as the result of legal combat engagement”.

26,948 images were directly provided by “Caesar” and more than 20,000 via the Opposition Syrian National Movement from “Caesar” and other sources.

“Caesar” also described how he and a doctor were sent to a military hospital to record the deaths of prisoners killed in detention, sometimes recording as many as 50 bodies a day, requiring 15 – 30 minutes of work on each corpse.

After the issue of a death certificate the families were informed that their family member had died “in hospital” from either a “heart attack” or “breathing problems”.

Each body was given two numbers, one referring to the branch of the intelligence service responsible for the detention and death of the detainee, and a second number falsifying that the detainee had died in hospital. The corpses were then taken away for burial in a rural location.


Evidence of Systematic Mass Killings

Although in the short time available the enquiry team was not able to examine every single image, they concluded that there is more than sufficient evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Assad regime.

De Silva told the London Guardian, where the report was first published (along with CNN), that the evidence “documented industrial-scale killing”. He added: “This is a smoking gun of a kind we didn’t have before. It makes a very strong case indeed.”


Commenting on the report, a spokesman for the US Government said, “As we have for over two years, and again today, we call on the Syrian government to grant immediate and unfettered access to all their detention facilities by international documentation bodies, including the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria”.

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) spokeswomen said, “These photos – if authentic [Having not checked them ourselves] – suggest that we may have only scratched the surface of the horrific extent of torture in Syria’s notorious dungeons. There is only one way to get to the bottom of this and that is for the negotiating parties at Geneva II to grant unhindered access to Syria’s detention facilities to independent monitors.”

At the time of writing, the day after the release of the report, SANA, the Syrian official state media, makes no mention of the accusations at all.

President Bashar Assad, portrays himself as a loving family man, an urbane, gentle, sophisticated leader “loved” by his people.

He is clearly nothing of the kind. The Assad war crimes evidence detailed above can only happen systematically and repeatedly over a long period if authorised from above.


Evidence of Being Beaten to Death

Not withstanding that this report has been commissioned by Qatar (a sworn enemy of Assad and sponsors of the armed Opposition against him) and that it publication has been timed to cause maximum impact at the Geneva conference – the responsibility for everything described above is Assad’s.

He had allowed this to happen and directly or indirectly authorised it.

Assad is in fact a monster, a blood-thirsty killer, just like his father Hafez, who will do anything to preserve his family “dynasty” and the elitist position of the minority Alawite community to which he belongs.

Bashar Assad should be arrested and tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Court in the Hague, in the Netherlands, at the earliest possible opportunity.

You can read the full Guardian report, HERE:

And the enquiry’s report, HERE:

The BBC has a video report, HERE:

CNN has 3 video reports, with 3 of the investigators, (CAUTION – EXTREMELY HARROWING IMAGES) HERE:


About the Author Peter Clifford

Peter Clifford has worked for over 40 years as a healer, counsellor, psychotherapist, lecturer and workshop leader empowering people worldwide to be the best that they can be.

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  • zab says:

    France scholars,who are at colonial times said Assad Alawi sect have no religion.That why they have no moral and mercy at all.

    • I am sure there are good and bad Alawites as there are good and bad Sunni or Christians etc. That is not the issue. Its just that Assad believes he has a right to rule at any price even if that is the murder of hundreds of thousands – and that is the moral failure – it’s individual. PC.

  • Sanita says:

    Hi Peter, there is no date on the article. When was it written please?

  • robertlgomez says:

    Hey peter, Thanks for keeping the truth alive in a sea of international lies, the least we can do.

  • duplicitousdemocracy says:

    Your header says:

    Human Rights l Democracy l Freedom l Equality l Justice

    What interests me is how you can associate these words with your apparent support of the vast majority of the terrorists fighting Assad. Al Nusrah have no intentions of being democratic and their judicial system is hardly a shining light in the world of justice. Freedom, particularly for women is hardly a priority either. Your most recent report on claimed successes by the Assad government and the terrorists can’t be proved or disproved using YouTube propaganda, The terrorists have been using that particular medium very effectively. Assad isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he’s certainly a far better option for the Syrian people than the alternative… Multi-national mercenaries that have no respect at all for Syria and it’s people.

    • Well I do support those values and that would be my ideal for Syria. Having said that I am only reporting events and if Opposition forces abuse anyone men, women or children then I will report that too. Fortunately the dreadful ISIS is being isolated. With video and other reports I do several hours research for each post and make a value judgement on each. If I get it wrong, then I will say so. All the stuff over Armenian “slaughter” etc. is very clearly completely rubbish. One thing the Opposition are learning is that they have to respect human rights in order to be credible.

      As for Assad and his father, they are both complete monsters responsible for the killing of tens of thousands and the disappearance of many more. That is not a “better option” but a commitment to continuing hell. Assad needs to be brought to the ICC as quickly as possible. PC.

      • duplicitousdemocracy says:

        Assad senior was indeed guilty of mass murder, however I’ve seen little evidence of his son doing anything remotely comparable to it. Defending a country from invaders isn’t a crime in my view. It’s a shame US and British foreign policy didn’t adhere to similar rules. How can we condemn Assad after the crimes OUR government inflicted on the peoples of Iraq , Afghanistan and Libya? Considering some of the confirmed crimes committed by the (predominantly) foreign invaders in Syria, we cannot rule out any alleged crimes by them. They are most certainly to blame for countless car bombs and suicide attacks inflicted on the people of Syria and this is where my problem with them begins (aside from their fanatical religious ideology). If it weren’t for this (well planned) uprising, many Syrians would be living in far better conditions and wouldn’t have needed to flee. You say the dreadful ISIS is isolated but Al Nusra are equally contemptible.
        The simple fact is that aside from small pockets of resistance from groups of Syrian born anti-Assad fighters the war is fabricated, supported and financed by Saudi and Qatar governments seeking regime change. No other nation should hold sway over another countries future.

  • I wish it were that simple. It is all about self interest, not humanitarian necessity – the US and Europe do see much advantage in getting involved in Syria, just a lot of expense and hassle. However, now Putin has pissed them off over Ukraine, they might in turn piss him off by helping the Syrian Opposition more – hence the sudden closing of Syria’s embassies in the US. Pathetic isn’t it? PC.

  • Sima Qin Jin says:

    I think Obama is secretly siding with Assad and is just using his words against assad as diversion , If Obama sides with the Secular opposition he must had sent weapons and financial support to the secular rebels long time ago and the regime would have been defeated 2 years ago , Just like what happened in Libya , Secular Opposition defeated Gaddafi in just 8 Months .
    Assad’s 500,000 strong force would have been reduced for just 4 months or less by defections , desertions , bombings and surgical strikes by tomahawks and Patriot Missile Systems.

  • walid addas says:

    Im not surprised. I add that the number of undocumented killings by this savage regime is much higher. Wonder if Mr Obama has guts to impose a no fly zone over Syria.

    • Thanks for your comments, Walid. Like you, I am sure the final figure is much higher – 55,000 at least are missing. As the Guardian has since said, 11,000 may just be the tip of the iceberg and we may be talking here of killing on a WW2 scale. As for no fly zone, that looks like a dead duck at the moment – unless something even more dreadful happens. PC

      • walid addas says:

        The US can do anything that it decides. I beleive they unilaterally imposed a no fly zone over Iraq in the 90 s and bosnia , kosovo later on.
        It just takes a man with guts unlike Obama and Carter. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan come to my mind in this regard. The west must sidestep Russia to help the Syrian people.

        • You are right, they can do whatever they want. However, I do not think it is a matter of “guts” – merely what suits national interest at that moment. It, unfortunately, has little to do with morality or responsibility. PC.

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