Israel considered attacking Syria crematorium – report
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Israel considered attacking Syria crematorium – report

Risk of war said to be among reasons for decision not to bomb what US said was a facility used to dispose of bodies of Assad opponents

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, April 18, 2017. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)
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, April 18, 2017. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)

Israel reportedly considered bombing crematoria created by the Syrian regime to burn and conceal the bodies of murdered political prisoners, but decided against it so as not to irritate the Americans or the Russians and avoid escalation on the northern border.

“A country that lost millions of its people to crematoria cannot stand by when it happens to another people a few dozens of kilometers from our border,” and when most of the world “stands by and remains silent — exactly as it did 70 years ago,” a senior figure involved in the discussions was quoted by the Israel Hayom daily as saying Sunday.

In May, the Trump administration accused the Syrian government of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the bodies in a large crematorium outside of the capital.

The State Department said it believed that some 50 detainees were being hanged daily at Saydnaya military prison — known as ‘the slaughterhouse’ — about 45 minutes north of Damascus. Many of the bodies, it said, were then burned in the crematorium.

This image provided by the State Department and DigitalGlobe, shows satellite images taken on August 27, 2013, (left), and April 16, 2015 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)

The department released commercial satellite photographs showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium. The photographs, taken over the course of several years beginning in 2013, did not definitely prove the building was a crematorium, but did show construction consistent with such use.

At the time, the Israeli interior minister, opposition lawmakers and Jewish groups demanded military action to stop the alleged atrocities.

Confidential talks were held on the possibility, according to the Israel Hayom report.

In the end, however, Israel decided to continue its policy of non-intervention in the conflict while the US restricted itself to calling on Russia to stop the abuses.

The Bashar Assad regime rejected the crematoria claim as a “Hollywood story,” aimed at justifying US intervention in the six-and-half-year civil war.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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