Dossier claims photos of Syrian prisoners document 'industrial scale killing' and torture

A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hangs over a doorway in Damascus
A portrait of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hangs over a doorway in Damascus Photo: REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri

A warning that this article contains graphic images.

A report based on 55,000 photographs appearing to show dead prisoners of the Syrian government claims to have found evidence of "industrial scale killing" and torture.

The photos were allegedly smuggled out of Syria by a defected photographer, whose job it was to document the deaths for the Syrian military police.

The majority of the images were too distressing to include in this article.

Photo purporting to show two dead prisoners (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report)
Photo purporting to show two dead prisoners (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report) Credit: Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors

They reportedly document the deaths of about 11,000 prisoners, many of whom appear to be emaciated and bear the marks of torture.

One of the three war crimes prosecutors who analysed the photos said they were reminiscent of the Second World War concentration camps of Belsen and Auschwitz.

Photo purporting to show injuries on a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report)
Photo purporting to show injuries on a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report) Credit: Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors

Neil Sammonds, a researcher for Amnesty International, told ITV News that the sheer number of photos of emaciated corpses appears to indicate a "new policy of starvation".

Some corpses appeared to bear ligature marks on their necks and "tram line' marks indicating that they were hit with a rod. Others had no eyes or showed signs of strangulation or electrocution.

Photo purporting to show injuries on a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report)
Photo purporting to show injuries on a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report) Credit: Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors

The prosecutors concluded that the photos amount to "clear evidence ... of systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government".

"Such evidence would support findings of crimes against humanity against the current Syrian regime. Such evidence could also support findings of war crimes against the current Syrian regime," they said.

Photo purporting to show injuries on a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report)
Photo purporting to show injuries on a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report) Credit: Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors

The images were reportedly passed to the Syrian National Movement, which is supported by the Gulf state of Qatar. Lawyers acting for Qatar, London-based Carter-Ruck and Co., commissioned the examination of the evidence.

Prosecutors interviewed the man who claimed to have taken the photographs in three sessions over the last 10 days and found him to be credible.

Photo purporting to show a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report)
Photo purporting to show a dead prisoner (comments are from the Cart-Ruck report) Credit: Carter-Ruck and Co. Solicitors

The report was published as opposing sides in Syria's civil war gathered for internationally sponsored peace talks in Switzerland.