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Syria running 'torture centers,' says HRW

Human Rights Watch has accused Syria of running torture centers in an effort to crush the pro-democracy uprising.

Clone of Syria flag fightingEnlarge
A Syrian flag flutters outside a military barrack, devastated by fighting between opposition forces and Syrian troops on May 2, 2012. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Syrian regime of running 27 torture centers across the country in an effort to crush the 16-month pro-democracy uprising.

In a report released today, the New York-based watchdog said detainees were systematically being beaten with batons and cables, burned with acid, sexually assaulted, and had their fingernails torn out, Reuters reported.

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More than 20 torture methods were documented, from the testimonies of more than 200 former prisoners and security force members who defected. The report includes maps detailing the locations of the torture facilities, video interviews and sketches of torture techniques, The Guardian reported.

HRW found that tens of thousands of people had been detained by the Department of Military Intelligence, the Political Security Directorate, the General Intelligence Directorate, and the Air Force Intelligence Directorate.

It said its report offered clear evidence of a state policy of torture and ill-treatment in Syria, which constitute crimes against humanity, Reuters reported, and called on the UN Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court.

HRW emergencies researcher Ole Solvang, said: "By publishing their locations, describing the torture methods, and identifying those in charge we are putting those responsible on notice that they will have to answer for these horrific crimes."

Tariq, an opposition activist from Latakia who spent 40 days in solitary confinement, told CNN he was subjected to the "dulab," in which his legs and head were pushed through a car tire before he was beaten. He was also tied to a board and beaten in another technique known as the "basat al reeh."

"They threw cold water on our naked bodies and they also urinated on us ... they are really good at what they do."

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Another man, 31, who was interviewed by HRW, said he was detained in the Idlib area last month in June and told to remove his clothing. His fingers were squeezed with pliers, and staples were put through his fingers, chest and ears.

"They used two wires hooked up to a car battery to give me electric shocks. They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice. I thought I would never see my family again. They tortured me like this three times over three days," he said.

The United Nations estimates that more than 10,000 people have been killed during the Syrian conflict.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120703/syria-accused-running-torture-centers