Defectors from Syria, including a soldier captured by rebels, confirm victims’ accounts of systematic torture and rape.
As the civil war escalates with clashes in and around the capital of Damascus, Amnesty reported first-hand accounts of torture, and the London Telegraph published confessions by a captured soldier.
"They capture people, we've seen evidence of them having beaten them up ... and in some cases they have killed them," according to Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International, as quoted by the South African Mail and Guardian.
She blamed the government for the worsening brutality, which several times has been reported as being of the worst possible kind, only to be followed by even more horror.
Opposition leaders said that the latest government massacre was carried out Thursday on a village by helicopters, artillery and tanks, killing between 100 and 200 people or more.
Rovera, who interviewed victims in Syria, said Amnesty’s reports indicated that Assad loyalists sometimes burned up to half of the homes and clinics in villages. Wounded rebels also have allegedly been barred from hospitals.
Three medics were “arrested and after a week, their bodies were found with clear marks of torture. Their nails had been pulled off, their teeth missing ... and their bodies had been set on fire," Rovera said.
Systematic torture has been reported to be focused in 27 detention facilities according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). "The intelligence agencies are running an archipelago of torture centers scattered across the country," said a HRW emergencies researcher.
Torture methods include the use of electricity, burning with acid, sexual assault, the pulling of fingernails and mock execution.
“They started squeezing my fingers with pliers. They put staples in my fingers, chest and ears. I was only allowed to take them out if I spoke….They used electric stun-guns on my genitals twice. I thought I would never see my family again,” said one victim.
Elderly people, women and children have been among those tortured.
The London Telegraph quoted a captured Assad loyalist as confessing that he received a wage increase for each person he killed or arrested.
“I enjoyed every minute,” he said. “We like Assad, because the government has allowed us to act freely, to get whatever we wanted, to kill people or rape women. The government would pay us a monthly salary equivalent to $450 in addition to $150 for every person we killed or arrested. I raped women."