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Syrian government denies US allegations of mass killings

AP  |  Beirut 

The Syrian today "categorically" denied US accusations of mass killings at a prison near Damascus, including the alleged execution of political opponents and burning the victims in a crematorium at the site.

The Foreign Ministry said the allegations are a "new Hollywood plot" to justify U.S. Intervention in Syria. It described the allegations as "lies" and "fabrications," noting what it called a US track record of using false claims as a pretext for military aggression.

The State Department said yesterday that it believes about 50 detainees are being hanged each day at the Saydnaya military prison, a 45-minute drive north of Damascus.

Many of the bodies are then burned in the crematorium "to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place," said Stuart Jones, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, accusing President Bashar Assad's of sinking "to a new level of depravity."

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

The latest accusations have cast a shadow over Syria peace talks in Geneva, where Syrian government and opposition representatives sat down separately with the UN envoy as talks got underway today.

The meetings were the sixth round of talks brokered by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.

"The US 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.

The allegation could test the Trump administration's willingness to respond to alleged atrocities other than chemical weapons attacks, which Washington blames on Assad's government.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 16 2017. 21:13 IST