Syria Burns, Literally

By Paul Rosenzweig
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 1:45 PM

I am amazed. I peruse the front page of Lawfare (and of our friendly competitor Just Security) and the news (to which I have contributed) is all about the drama of the Trump presidency and its seeming implosion. Somehow, in the midst of all, this official Washington has lost sight of a far greater tragedy—the report (first noted in The New York Times two days ago) that the U.S. government has concluded that Syria is building a crematorium to burn the bodies of prisoners it has executed in order to conceal the evidence of its mass murder. Here's the intro to the Times piece:

The United States has evidence Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has built a crematorium at a large military prison outside the capital Damascus, a State Department official said on Monday.

Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, said U.S. officials believe the crematorium could be used to dispose of bodies at a prison where they believe Assad's government authorized the mass hangings of thousands of inmates during Syria's six-year-old civil war.

"Credible sources have believed that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves," Jones told reporters. During the briefing, he showed aerial images of what he said was a crematorium.

"We now believe that the Syrian regime has installed a crematorium in the Sednaya prison complex which could dispose of detainees' remains with little evidence."

If this all sounds eerily familiar it should. And recall, of course, that this same Assad government is newly emboldened by America's disengagement. And yet .... we are distracted. While our modern-day Nero fiddles, Syrians, quite literally, burn.