Syria’s opposition on Tuesday demanded international observers be allowed access to regime-run detention centres, after an Amnesty International investigation into mass hangings at a notorious government prison.
The damning report details the gruesome weekly ritual of group executions at Saydnaya prison that have left up to 13,000 people dead over five years.
In a statement on Tuesday, the opposition National Coalition called for “immediately allowing international observers unobstructed access to detention centres and the immediate, unconditional release of all detainees.
“The report must be transferred to the International Criminal Court, which will guarantee that those responsible for these war crimes and crimes against humanity will be held accountable,” the Istanbul-based group said.
Amnesty accused Syria’s government of a “policy of extermination” by repeatedly torturing detainees, withholding food, water and medical care, and carrying out extrajudicial killings.
The report comes just two weeks before a new round of talks is due to take place in Switzerland aimed at putting an end to nearly six years of civil war.
The High Negotiations Committee, which is set to represent Syria’s opposition at these talks, said the investigation “leaves no doubts that the regime has carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
“Amnesty’s new reports demonstrate… the scale of terrorism that the regime in Syria is practising against the Syrian people,” the HNC said in an emailed statement.
It called for a halt to bombing, an end to regime sieges, and the release of thousands of detainees as “the starting point for any serious talks” to end the war.
More than 310,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad.