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19 May 2017, 11:36 | Max Haynes
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Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, a retired major general who led the Israel Defense Forces's southern command, which includes the Gaza Strip, pointed to USA allegations that the Assad regime built a crematorium at a prison outside Damascus to cover up mass murders.
He says construction on the alleged crematorium was finished by 2015.This satellite photograph taken on April 18 depicts what the State Department describes as a crematorium - in the bottom right of the image - built to dispose of the bodies of victims at Saydnaya military prison outside Damascus, Syria. It called the State Department's allegations "lies" and "fabrications", noting what it called a US history of making up false claims as a pretext for military aggression.
Galant's comments came one day after the US State Department claimed that Assad's government was using a crematorium to cover up the deaths of thousands of prisoners at Saydnaya military prison near the capital Damascus.
Amnesty International reported in February that an average of 20 to 50 people were hanged each week at the Sednaya military prison north of Damascus.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had been "firm and clear" in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week that "Russia holds tremendous influence over Bashar al-Assad".
"Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Sednaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium", Jones said.
Amnesty International has said 13,000 people were killed in four years at the prison.
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Last month, in retaliation for the chemical attacks done on Syrian civilians by the government, the United States had launched its cruise missiles that strike on the air force base located in an undisclosed region near the Syrian capital.
The government of President Bashar Assad has always been accused of killing thousands of prisoners and burying them in mass graves.
He said the American claim about the crematorium is based on information from the USA intelligence community and humanitarian groups.
The latest accusations have cast a shadow over Syria talks in Geneva, where Syrian government and opposition representatives sat down separately with the United Nations envoy. "The [Assad] regime must stop all attacks on civilian and opposition forces".
The Observatory said two women were killed by rocket fire in a Damascus suburb and another was killed by aerial bombardment in Homs province.
Video from the group showed rescuers pulling children from the rubble of a multistory building.
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