In Koblenz, the “Branch 251” and the Syrian regime on the dock

Portraits of victims of the Syrian regime, in Koblenz, on June 4.

In Syria, state barbarism often takes on the features of a bureaucracy of death. We photograph the bodies of the tortured, we assign them numbers, we carefully draw up lists of names in notebooks. We complain, too.

At the end of December 2011, in an information note sent to the head of Branch 251 of the intelligence services in Damascus, the investigation and investigation section regrets the lack of cooperation from the hospital’s forensic officer military man from Harasta, on the outskirts of the capital. Subject of the dispute: the transport of the bodies of detainees who died under torture.

Branch 251, also known as “Al-Khatib”, has made three of its men available to the military hospital to get rid of the victims who perish on its premises when, it says, “This is not part of his responsibilities”. She asks for more support. Because the dead, some days, there are many.

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In charge of the internal surveillance of the population, Branch 251, located in a complex of two-storey buildings in the Al-Khatib district, in the center of the capital, is one of the countless places of detention of the Syrian torture archipelago. Structured around the country’s four main intelligence services, the security apparatus has been running at full speed since the beginning of 2011 the Syrian population rose up against the dictatorship.

The scheme referred to as such

Between March 2011 and September 2020, nearly 14,300 men, women and children died under torture on the premises of the moukhabarat, according to a count by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR). Tens of thousands of people have not given any sign of life since their arrest.

This morbid exchange between the officers of “Al-Khatib” about the growing number of bodies they have to transfer is part of a set of documents from the security services. They were put together by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). Its director, lawyer Mazen Darwish, himself a survivor of the regime’s jails, testified on September 15 and 16 before the Koblenz regional court.

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It is in this city of western Germany that, since April, the former Syrian colonel Anwar Raslan and one of his subordinates. Arrested in February 2019 in Germany, whom he had joined to rebuild his life, Anwar Raslan, 57, was, until the fall of 2012, the head of investigations for Branch 251. He was responsible for coordinating the arrests. , investigations and interrogations. He must answer, as such, for the death of 58 people, as well as the abuse inflicted on more than 4,000 others, from April 2011 to September 2012.

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