The United States is attempting to ratchet up pressure on Russia to push the Syrian government into peace talks with rebels. On Monday, the US accused Syria of executing thousands of imprisoned political opponents and burning their bodies in a crematorium to hide the evidence.
But the decision to release newly declassified information supporting the allegation may also test the Trump administration’s own willingness to respond to atrocities in Syria, other than chemical weapons attacks, which it blames on President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The accusation of mass killings and efforts to cover them up came as President Donald Trump weighs options in Syria, where the US launched cruise missiles on a government air base last month after accusing Assad’s military of killing scores of civilians with a sarin-like nerve agent.
This image provided by the State Department and DigitalGlobe, taken Jan. 15, 2015, a satellite image of what the State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium. The Trump administration accused the Syrian government of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the dead bodies in a large crematorium outside the capital. It also stepped up criticism of Iran and Russia for supporting the Syrian government. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)
This image provided by the State Department and DigitalGlobe, taken Aug. 27, 2013, left, and April 16, 2015, satellite images of what the State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)