Bashar al-Assad's regime has been running a "torture archipelago," Human Rights Watch alleged today, documenting vicious abuses at a string of 27 Syrian detention facilities. The New York-based group interviewed more than 200 former detainees and Syrian defectors, who say prisoners were routinely beaten with batons and wires, electrocuted, burned with car battery acid, sexually assaulted, and more. They were also kept in stress positions—often using equipment devised just for that purpose, according to the AFP.
"I thought I would never see my family again," says one detainee, who reports having his fingers squeezed with pliers, and staples driven into his fingers, chest, and ears. "They tortured me like this three times over three days." The facilities are operated by Syria's four main intelligence agencies, collectively referred to as the "mukhabarat," the report alleges. The mukhabarat is also running other detention centers, notes the AFP, most of which are repurposed stadiums, military bases, hospitals, and schools. Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights said both the government and opposition had been accused of "serious" new abuses, including attacking hospitals.