Assad regime still filling Syria mass graves with murdered detainees, defector says

Assad regime still filling Syria mass graves with murdered detainees, defector says
An anonymous whistleblower and former grave digger told US Senators during a congressional hearing that mass graves are still being dug in Syria as part of the Assad regime's continuous war crimes against civilians in the country.
3 min read
09 June, 2022
The Assad regime has buried thousands of civilians in mass graves since the Syrian conflict began [Getty-file photo]

Bashar Al-Assad's regime continues to dig mass graves  in Syria to fill with its victims, an anonymous whistleblower told US senators in a court hearing on Wednesday.

The whistleblower - known as the "gravedigger" - spoke of the atrocities he witnessed while he was a civilian worker at a mass grave site in Syria from 2011 to 2018 during a congressional hearing about the Syrian war, reported CNN.

He was covered from head to toe and dressed fully in black as he gave his statements through an interpreter. Defectors giving evidence about regime war crimes usually hide their identities this way to protect them and family members from reprisals.

The gravedigger, who fled Syria in 2018, said that he recently spoke with others who left the country, who recounted that mass graves were still being dug.

Prior to the war, he worked as an administrative employee at a Damascus municipality, before he was ordered to work for regime intelligence officials in 2011. He managed to leave Syria in 2018, following his family to Europe, and previously testified before a court in the German city of Koblenz.

During the hearing, he stated that "no one can say no" to the Assad regime's demands, adding that he was not "prepared" for the horrors he encountered through his duties.

"Every week, twice a week, three trailer trucks arrived packed with 300 to 600 bodies of victims of torture, bombardment and slaughter," he conveyed via an interpreter. "Twice a week, three to four pickup trucks with 30 to 40 bodies of civilians that had been executed in Sednaya prison also arrived for disposal in the most inhumane way," he added.

Executions and torture are routine at Sednaya, known as the "world's worst prison".

He detailed some of the acts of cruelty he saw, such as the killing of a civilian who was still alive when his body was dumped from a trailer truck with other dead bodies.

"In some, I know exactly where they are piled up into mass graves that are still being dug today. I know this because others who have worked with me on the mass graves have recently escaped and confirmed what we have been hearing," he said.

The whistleblower warned that "the worst is yet to come" at the hands of Assad’s regime, urging the senators to "take action".

He further expressed that the longer Assad stays in power, the further it will enable Russian President Vladimir Putin to carry out human rights violations, as Moscow continues to pound Ukraine since its 24 February invasion.

An estimated half a million people have been killed and millions more displaced as a result of the Syrian conflict, which began as peaceful demonstrations against dictator Bashar Al-Assad in 2011. Strong evidence has pointed to massacres and mass torture committed by the Assad regime against civilians, some of which has been presented in landmark trials against regime officials.