Harrowing new photographs of Syrian detainees being tortured in Aleppo Central Prison were released on Sunday by a defecting military photographer.
The photos were exclusively obtained by the Syrian news daily, Zaman Al-Wasl, where gruesome pictures showed the abuse that prisoners were subjected to during Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on civilians in Syria’s largest city of Aleppo.
The hundreds of detainees were imprisoned, tortured and massacred in Aleppo Central Prison between 2013 and 2014, at the time of the Syrian regime’s siege of the city.
Aleppo witnessed fierce battles between the Assad regime and rebels between 2012 and 2016, until the regime forces defeated the rebels with crucial backing from Russia.
According to the defector, the detainees were killed by different means of torture, starvation, deliberate negligence, and execution.
Zaman Al-Wasl published a video recording of a defector's assistant - named "Abu Ahmed" - who was responsible for documenting and photographing the deaths inside the prison at the time.
During the recording, "Abu Ahmed" recounted the horrors that happened inside the jail, adding that he was able to document the killing of at least 400 out of the 800 prisoners who were killed, some by firing squad.
Further testimony came from "Abu Abdullah", a former prisoner detained at the prison since 2006. He witnessed the brutality of the Assad regime’s forces, which he said "did not spare anyone", both before and after the 2011 Syrian revolution.
Both testimonies named an army captain, Ayham Khaddour, who was revealed to be a key instigator in the abuse faced by the prisoners in Aleppo. He was described as "devoid of humanity".
The defectors went on to name a number of tortured detainees, notably Anas Kharqi, Ahmed Khalaf, Iyad Farghali and Aladdin Mohammad Haskoulak- whose bodies showed signs of deformity, burn marks, and abrasion.
According to Zaman Al-Wasl, the aforementioned victims - who were documented by numbers - were killed and tortured in 2013, and were from the cities of Aleppo and Damascus and the town of Haritan northwest of Aleppo.
This marks the second time photographs documenting the torture and killing of detainees by the Syrian regime have been released.
In 2013 a military defector identified only as Ceasar released over 50,000 photographs showing the torture and killing of thousands of prisoners in regime detention centres.
The photographs were then used in the landmark 2014 Syrian detainees report, which called for Syrian officials to be tried for crimes against humanity.
The Syrian regime has been frequently accused of torture, unlawful killings and crimes against humanity against civilians by human rights groups.
Over 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.
Human rights organisations say at least 500,000 Syrians have been killed since the peaceful uprising in 2011, many of whom died at the hands of the Assad regime and his Russian ally.
The New Arab