US accuses Syria of mass executions and burning the bodies

A Syrian army soldier stands on top of a vehicle carrying a gun in Salma, Syria, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Syrian government forces relying on Russian air cover have recently seized Salma, located in Syria's province of Lattakia, from militants. The Syrian government offensive has given Assad a stronger hand going into peace talks with the opposition that are planned for next week in Switzerland. (AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Trump administration is accusing the Syrian government carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the dead bodies in a large crematorium outside the capital.

The State Department says about 50 detainees a day are being hanged at Saydnaya (Said-nay-ah) military prison, about 45 minutes from Damascus. It says the crematorium is being used to hide evidence of the extent of the killings.

The department is releasing newly declassified photographs showing what it says is a building in the prison complex that has been modified to support the crematorium.

In presenting the photographs, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East, Stu Jones, said Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government “has sunk to a new level of depravity” with the support of Russia and Iran.

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