Gen. Jamil al-Hassan, head of Air Force Intelligence, who oversees Assad regime detentions that have killed tens of thousands

German authorities have arrested two former Assad regime intelligence officers on charges of crimes against humanity.

One, named as “Anwar R”, was allegedly in charge of a General Intelligence Directorate (GID) prison where 2,000 people were tortured between April 2011 and September 2012. He led a branch investigative department in the Damascus area, and is said to have assigned and directed operations where detainees were subjected to “systematic and brutal torture”.

“Eyad A”, who worked for Anwar R’s department in the Damascus area, is charged with aiding and abetting a crime against humanity at the same prison. Prosecutors say that he spent a month in summer 2011 at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Damascus, mandated to arrest protesters, army deserters, and other suspects.

About 100 people were taken from the checkpoint to the Damascus prison each day and tortured, authorities said. They added that, later in the year, Eyad A took part in raids on homes and tracked down people who took part in protests.

Prosecutors say he assisted in the killing of two unnamed people and the torture of 2,000 prisoners.

Both men appear to have left Syria in 2012, three years before the large influx of migrants to Germany began.

German prosecutors said the men were arrested in Berlin and in Rhineland-Palatinate State on Tuesday.

Both men later sought asylum in Germany.

A third man, believed to have been a GID staffer, was arrested in France on Tuesday as part of a joint investigation with the Germans.

More Cases

German officials are investigating dozens of other former Assad regime officials under universal jurisdiction, which allows courts to try individuals suspected of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Last year, prosecutors issued an international arrest warrant for Jamil Hassan, the head of the regime’s Air Force Intelligence service. He is accused of overseeing the torture, rape, and murder of hundreds of people between 2011 and 2013.

Documents retrieved from parts of Syria that fell to the opposition include correspondence from Hassan to other officials over detentions and prison operations.

UN human rights experts reported last March that regime forces and affiliated militias were “arbitrarily or unlawfully detaining tens of thousands of individuals in official and makeshift detention centers”:

They endure various forms of brutal torture and subsist in severely inhumane conditions. Many have died in detention, while others have been summarily executed.

Last year the regime began notifying families of the deaths of detainees, some of whom had disappeared for years. A regime official said notification of at least 50,000 victims may eventually be given, and estimated that the number could reach 100,000.

The pro-opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights said in August that it has documented the torture to death of more than 13,600 people in detention, with more than 90% occurring in regime-run facilities.