Working with one of the 11,000 photos of detainees abused and killed in Syrian prisons, activists have placed one of the “torture camps” only 500 meters from President Assad’s palace in south Damascus.

The photo, among those brought out by a defecting military photographer in January 2014, shows detainees’ bodies in a courtyard. In the background is a hill.


Carrying out geolocation on the images in and near the courtyard, activists say the facility is “Military Hospital 601”, near the military airport, Mezzeh Prison, and an Air Force Intelligence complex. The hill in the background is near Mount Mezzeh, the site of the Presidential Palace.

In October 2013, the Violations Documentation Center posted the testimony of a former detainee in “Military Hospital 601”, describing the abuse, beating, burning, and killing of prisoners:

As soon as I opened the door of the toilet, I was freaked out for there was three bluish bodied lying there with their underwear. Those bodies had long hair and beards. It seemed that they had spent a long-term detention. Their eyes were pulled out during torture, and they were piled above each other.

I immediately shut the door and went to the bathroom to pee, however I saw two other bodies, fully dressed with long hair and beards too, yet these bodies seemed to have died not very long time before. They seemed to have died recently.

I closed the door again and headed to the small room where the small sink is. There, I saw a young man’s body; he was about 17, with white complex and blond hair. He only wore underwear, and traces of torture were all over his tiny body with other traces of burnings caused either by boiling water, boiling oil or other substance.

Scared to death, I went back to the room. The guard asked if anything was wrong with me. I replied that I saw bodies of dead men in the bathroom, yet he did not pay any attention to my words. That guard nicknamed himself as “Ezra’eel/The Angel of Death”.

In January, the opposition website Zaman al-Wasl also published torture photos claiming to be from Military Hospital 601.