Middle East

Syria rejects Amnesty's report of mass hangings as 'untrue'

COMBO - In this combination of two photos of Omar Alshogre, a 21-year Syrian former detainee, now living in Stockholm, Sweden. The left picture is of Alshogre taken on January 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. The right picture is of Alshogre in July 2015 in Antakya, Turkey, a month after he got out of Syria's Saydnaya prison, near Damascus. While in detention, Alshogre said he heard men escorted to be hanged and had himself been called for "execution" but was spared after a brief trial. Amnesty published a new report on Tuesday revealing that as many as 13,000 men were hanged in secret in a Syrian prison between 2011 and 2015, as part of a government campaign of extrajudicial executions. The group says for five years, once or twice weekly, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death. (Handout by Omar Alshogre via AP)

COMBO - In this combination of two photos of Omar Alshogre, a 21-year Syrian former detainee, now living in Stockholm, Sweden. The left picture is of Alshogre taken on January 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. The right picture is of Alshogre in July 2015 in Antakya, Turkey, a month after he got out of Syria's Saydnaya prison, near Damascus. While in detention, Alshogre said he heard men escorted to be hanged and had himself been called for "execution" but was spared after a brief trial. Amnesty published a new report on Tuesday revealing that as many as 13,000 men were hanged in secret in a Syrian prison between 2011 and 2015, as part of a government campaign of extrajudicial executions. The group says for five years, once or twice weekly, groups of up to 50 people were taken out of their prison cells and hanged to death. (Handout by Omar Alshogre via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Syria's justice ministry is rejecting an Amnesty International report of mass hangings of as many as 13,000 people in a prison near Damascus, calling the allegations "totally untrue" and part of a smear campaign.

The ministry's statement was published by Syria's state-run news agency on Wednesday, a day after Amnesty released its report.

It says "misleading and inciting" media outlets carried the Amnesty report with the intention to smear the Syrian government's reputation on the world stage — particularly after recent "military victories against terrorists groups."

The government refers to all armed opposition as "terrorists."

It also says the allegations are "baseless" because executions in Syria follow due process and various stages of litigations.

Amnesty's report says the mostly civilian victims were hanged after military trials that lasted minutes.