Middle East

Syria 'categorically' denies US accusations of mass killings

The Syrian government "categorically" denied on Tuesday US accusations that mass killings are happening at a prison north of Damascus, with the victims burned there in a crematorium.

The allegations are "a new Hollywood plot" to justify U.S. intervention in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It called the State Department's allegations "lies" and "fabrications," noting what it called a U.S. history of making up false claims as a pretext for military aggression.

"The U.S. administration's accusations against the Syrian government of a so-called crematorium in Saydnaya prison, in addition to the broken record about the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons, are categorically false," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.

SYRIAN REGIME USING CREMATORIUM TO 'COVER UP' MASS MURDERS, STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS

About 50 detainees are hanged each day at the Saydnaya military prison, the State Department said Monday. 

Many of the bodies are burned in a crematorium "to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place," Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones said. He accused President Bashar Assad's government of sinking "to a new level of depravity."

The State Department released commercial satellite photographs showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium. The images, which started to be taken in 2013, do not prove the building is a crematorium, but show construction consistent with such use. 

REPORT ACCUSES SYRIAN REGIME OF CARRYING OUT MASS HANGINGS

Amnesty International has said 13,000 people were killed in four years at the prison.

The allegation of mass killings came as President Donald Trump weighs options in Syria, where the U.S. launched cruise missiles on a government air base in April after accusing Assad's military of killing scores of civilians with a sarin-like nerve agent. 

Western monitors and watchdog groups say they have accumulated evidence of mass killings in Syrian government prisons, though there have not been any substantiated allegations so far of the use of a crematorium.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.