SYRIA has dismissed reports of secret mass hangings at a prison near Damascus as fake news.
The justice ministry said ‘misleading and inciting’ media outlets carried the Amnesty International report to smear the government’s reputation on the world stage, particularly after it made military gains against rebels opposed to president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
It said allegations that up to 13,000 prisoners were executed at Saydnaya Prison were ‘baseless’ because executions in Syria follow due process and various stages of litigation.
However, Lynn Maalouf, the deputy director of research at Amnesty’s regional office in Beirut, said: ‘These executions take place after a sham trial that lasts over a minute or two minutes but they are authorised by the highest levels of authority.’
While the most recent data is from 2015, Ms Maalouf said there was no reason to believe the ‘calculated campaign of extrajudicial execution’ has stopped, with thousands more probably killed or tortured.
■ ABOUT 350 child refugees will be brought to Britain from Europe, the government has said. It comes after Labour’s Lord Dubs won an Immigration Act amendment, requiring a ‘specified number’ of unaccompanied children to be welcomed from the continent. Campaigners had wanted 3,000 to be given sanctuary and Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said taking only 350 was a ‘betrayal’ of vulnerable youngsters.