Human rights activists have visited what Syrian rebels described as abandoned government prisons in which they alleged detainees were tortured.
Human Rights Watch researchers were shown round offices and cells in the city of Raqqa which was overrun by forces opposing President Assad last February.
Lama Fakih, a Human Rights Watch researcher was among those taken to see the prisons:“While in the branches we were able to see, for example, documentary evidence of the types of cases that the intelligence forces were following. We were able to see the solitary confinement cells where the detainees were held. We were also able to see interrogation rooms and torture rooms”
Former detainees showed the researchers one device which they said was used to bend victims’ arms and legs. Distressing interviews were also recorded with alleged witnesses, one of whom was called Ahmed:
“I saw people who had their nails ripped out, and flesh had grown in their place, and new nails were sprouting from that flesh. The very sight was just not human. People who had spent eight or eleven years in there, confined between four walls.”
Human Rights Watch say they have been documenting abuses on both sides of Syria’s civil war. While they describe those by the Assad regime as widespread, they claim rebel abuses have also increased.