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Syria: Horrific Abuse in Secret Al Qaeda Prisons

Amnesty International warns of torture, murder in Al Qaeda-affiliated prisons. Children among the victims.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/19/2013, 3:30 PM

A Syrian rebel aims his weapon during clashes with regime forces
A Syrian rebel aims his weapon during clashes with regime forces
AFP photo

Syrians are being tortured and killed in secret prisons run by an Al Qaeda affiliated group, Amnesty International has warned in its latest report.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which has seized control of territory in northern Syria, has reportedly committed horrific abuses in its prisons in the region.

Sources told Amnesty that some of those imprisoned by ISIS are as young as eight years old. Witnesses reported seeing teenagers being tortured, including a 14-year-old boy who was given 90 lashes during an interrogation.

Prisoners have also reportedly been tortured with electric shocks.

Those who are given a trial face a Sharia court (court of Islamic law) overseen by a judge who regularly shows up to court wearing a bomb belt, according to the report. Trials often last just minutes; some of the "sham" trials end with summary executions.

"After years in which they were prey to the brutality of the Assad regime, the people of Raqqa and Aleppo are now suffering under a new form of tyranny imposed on them by ISIS, in which arbitrary detention, torture and executions have become the order of the day," said Amnesty’s regional director, Philip Luther.

Well over 100,000 people have been killed in fighting in Syria since March 2011, and more than nine million have fled their homes.

Roughly 2.2 Syrians have fled the country altogether, with millions more displaced internally. As many as 300,000 children in refugee camps are not attending school. The refugee population has been particularly at risk due to the cold winter weather.

Health officials have also expressed concern over the possibility of an outbreak due to a potentially lethal combination of poor sanitation and low vaccination rates.