US Knew of Syria Torture Photos for Months

As UN looks to salvage peace talks

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2014 7:58 AM CST

(Newser) – The Obama administration wasn't exactly shocked this week when war crimes prosecutors released 55,000 photos of people systematically killed by Bashar al-Assad's regime—because the State Department has known about them since November, the New York Times reports. The administration didn't act on the photos because it couldn't authenticate them, and it doesn't intend to seriously change its Syria policy because of them. But John Kerry did endorse a demand that the UN investigate the photos.

"The questions raised by this require an answer," Kerry said yesterday, in Geneva talks that proved particularly acrimonious. UN mediator Lakhdar Bahimi will meet today with Assad's regime and the opposition separately and see if there's any room for common ground, the AP reports. He's optimistic that the sides will be able to agree on humanitarian aid, cease-fires, or prisoner exchanges. But the two sides aren't exactly optimistic. "All they have done so far is ignore reality," said a Syrian National Coalition member.

In this May 4, 2013 file photo shows dead bodies in Banias, Syria.
In this May 4, 2013 file photo shows dead bodies in Banias, Syria.   (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN, File)
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