While Donald Trump continues his two-year heist of every news cycle, it’s easy to overlook major developments from around the world that have mind-bending implications.

One example came on May 15, 2017 when the US accused the Syrian government of using a crematory to hide mass murders at a prison where thousands are believed to have been summarily executed. Newly declassified satellite photographs of the prison draw a clear parallel to Nazi Germany’s death camps.

“The attempt to cover up mass murders in the Assad crematorium is reminiscent of the 20th century’s worst offenses against humanity,” said Nikki Haley, the America’s ambassador to the United Nations.

During the last seven years of war, Syrian President Assad has been killing thousands of prisoners and burying their bodies in mass graves. Now, his government systematically incinerates the corpses of executed inmates at the Sednaya prison complex north of Damascus to destroy evidence that could be used to prosecute war crimes.

“We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Sednaya prison complex, which could dispose of detainees’ remains with little evidence,” said Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. “At this point, we are talking about this evidence and bringing it forward to the international community, which we hope will put pressure on the regime to change its behavior.”

However, this is no new discovery. The US has been in possession of these satellite photographs for years, suggesting the crematory was created in 2013.

So if the United States had satellite pictures suggesting the existence of the facility for such a long time, why are they being publicized only now? 

The United Nations is scheduled to begin another round of Syria peace talks in Geneva on May 16, 2017, and the timing of the crematory accusations seemed intended to pressure Russia, Mr. Assad’s principal foreign ally, into backing away from him. “The rest of the world recognizes the horrors of the Syrian regime,” Ms. Haley said. “It is time for Russia to join us.”

 

Throughout the long-standing conflict, which has killed roughly 400,000 people, many witnesses have accused pro-­government forces of burning or destroying bodies, though not specifically at Sednaya. Hundreds of eye-witnesses report soldiers burning bodies over the years. A lawyer in Aleppo described seeing two bodies thrown out of a security office. When he and his friends returned a few days later to bury them, he said, they were stopped by security officers who burned the bodies in the street. The bodies of infants were found half­-charred in 2013 after pro­-government forces massacred scores of people in the towns of Bayda and Baniyas.

In short, America has known about Nazi-like war crimes for years, failing on two counts: #1 – We did nothing to stop the bloodbath, again. #2 –  We called the refugees terrorists, allowing the real killers to burn the evidence that they’re not.

Raymond Bechard
Raymond Bechard

Raymond Bechard is an Author, Producer and Human Rights Advocate. For over 25 years he has worked to provide justice, tolerance and equality to people around the world.

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