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U.S. says reports of killings in Syria suggest widespread, systematic violations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Photographs of the torture and killing of thousands of detainees in Syria suggest serious international crimes by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. State Department said on Tuesday.

A Syrian military police photographer has supplied “clear evidence” showing the systematic torture and killing of about 11,000 detainees in circumstances that evoked Nazi death camps, former war crimes prosecutors said.

“These reports suggest widespread and apparently systematic violations by the regime,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.

“As we said before, the Syrian regime is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity,” she said. “These most recent images ... are extremely disturbing. They’re horrible to look at.

“And they illustrate apparent actions that would be serious international crimes.”

Harf said the prosecutors’ report emphasizes the importance getting an agreement in place that will bring a political transition and an end to the bloodshed.

“It underscores that it makes it even more important that we make progress, that the situation on the ground is so horrific that we need to get a political transition in place and that we need to get the Assad regime out of power.”

She said she was not sure if the U.S. government was trying to verify the prosecutors’ report but said she saw no reason to doubt its veracity.

“It certainly is in line with everything we know about the Assad regime,” Harf told a news briefing.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jim Loney