By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. on Monday strongly criticized the Syrian regime over "thousands" of death notices it has been releasing, saying they confirm suspicions of systematic arrests, torture and murder.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that over 117,000 people are believed to have been detained or forcibly disappeared in Syria since the conflict began in 2011, and "the vast majority" are suspected to be in regime custody "across a network of prisons where regime officials torture and murder civilians to intimidate and silence any opposition” to Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
"Extensive documentation and other evidence of this torture and murder is being collected by international organizations and support the world’s continued condemnation of the Syrian regime and prosecution of culpable officials in various courts," she said.
"The United States strongly reiterates its condemnation of the Assad regime’s cruel actions and calls on it to adhere to international laws and norms pertaining to the treatment of prisoners, including by allowing access for independent monitors."
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the seven-year conflict, according to UN figures. The Syrian Network for Human Rights says nearly 120,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested.