The Trump administration has imposed a new round of sanctions on five people and five companies in Syria, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Tuesday. In a statement, the department cited Syria’s “relentless attacks on civilians” as grounds for the sanctions. A day earlier, the Trump administration accused Syria’s Assad regime of cremating the remains of thousands of hanged prisoners in “an effort to cover up the extent of mass murder.”
According to Stuart Jones, the acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs at the U.S. State Department, recently declassified reports and photos show a crematorium at the Saydnaya military prison near the Syrian capital of Damascus. While Amnesty International previously reported that between 5,000 and 13,000 people were hanged at the prison from 2011 to 2015, evidence of a crematorium is new. On Monday, the Trump administration referred to the incineration of prisoners as a “new level of depravity” for Syria.
Syria denied the accusations of mass killings on Tuesday, calling them “lies” and “fabrications.” Syria’s Foreign Ministry said the U.S. has a track record of falsifying claims in order to justify the country’s military aggression. The latest accusations were nothing more than a “new Hollywood plot,” they said. On Tuesday, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the United Nations, said the UN could not verify the United States’s allegations because Damascus had “systematically rejected” their requests to visit the city’s prisons and detention centers. Still, he noted that “various UN entities have regularly documented and reported on human rights violations in Syria, including torture in the context of detention.”