In the three weeks since Josh Rogan of The Daily Beast reported that some in the Obama administration advocated “a de facto alliance” with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fight ISIS extremists, substantial evidence of the regime’s crimes and internal planning have surfaced.
U.S. investigators who have reviewed photos taken by a Syrian military photographer say they believe at least 10,000 corpses were visually cataloged after torture between 2011 and mid-2013, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
“Investigators believe they weren’t victims of regular warfare but of torture,” the Wall Street Journal reported, “and that the bodies were brought to the hospital from the Assad regime’s sprawling network of prisons.”
The U.S. and other Western governments are expecting to see another 25,000 photos. (The photos are graphic.)
The Syrian military photographer, code-named Caesar, defected to the West last year and provided the U.S. with a trove of postmortem photographs from Hospital 601, a notorious hospital near the presidential palace in Damascus.
WSJ interviewed Western war-crimes investigators, more than a dozen defectors, and opposition leaders working with the photographer.
Cherif Bassiouni, who chaired several United Nations war-crimes investigation commissions, told WSJ that the record-keeping system bore similarities to the method used by Soviet intelligence services in the 1950s.
“The system appeared designed to maintain internal military discipline and track which branch of the military did what,” Bassiouni said.
David Crane, a former war-crimes prosecutor who has interviewed Caesar, told WSJ that “the last time we saw this kind of bureaucratic processing of humans was at Nuremberg.”
That mounting evidence is why Fred Hof, former special adviser for transition in Syria at the State Department, recently wrote: “Those who counsel cooperation with Assad should think things through very, very carefully with their own reputations in mind.”
A video report can be seen on WSJ (warning: graphic).
ISIS and Assad
Bassam Barabandi, who served as a diplomat for several decades in the Syrian Foreign Ministry, also warned against working with Assad. Barabandi co-wrote an article in the Atlantic Council, detailing how any alliance with Assad against the newly formed Islamic State would be playing right along with the plans of Assad and Iran.
“Now that ISIS has fully matured, the Assad regime and Iran offer themselves as partners to the United States,” he writes. “Assad will continue to make himself appear helpful by offering intermittent air strikes, details of fighters released from prison, and intelligence.”
Later he argues that “U.S. coordination with Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, or the Assad government in the fight against ISIS will play directly into the Assad plan. It will prove to Assad that his manipulation of time and terror has once again worked.”
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