July 3, 2012

Department of Military Intelligence

Director:

Maj. Gen. Abdul Fatah Kudsiyeh[37]

  

Branch 291 – Damascus [38]

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Brig. Gen. Burhan Qadour (head of branch since May 2012)[39]
  • Brig. Gen. Yousef Abdou (head of branch until May 2012)[40]
  • Brig. Gen. Salah Hamad (deputy head of branch)[41]

Location:

Coordinates: 33.50462N, 36.274799E[42]

Damascus city. May 6 Street, commonly referred to as the “Street of Branches,” on the northeastern corner of the intersection with April 17 Street.

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with objects; shabeh; electrocution; threats against detainee; exposure to cold; threats against family members; sexual abuse.

General comments:

Detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that they were kept on the second or third underground floor. At the bottom of a set of stairs there was a large entry room. Most of the torture took place in this room or in interrogation rooms on the same floor, which were accessed through a door from the entry room. Interrogations also took place on the ground floor. From the entry room on the underground floor, double doors lead to a corridor with several common cells on each side and about 16 individual cells along two shorter corridors off the main corridor.

The detainees said that the cells were extremely over-crowded. Three of the detainees said that the group cells, which measured approximately 20 square meters, held 60-75 people. Two detainees said that the individual cells, measuring about one square meter, held five or six people. (By using his hand, one detainee estimated that the individual cell measured 1.5 by 0.70 meters.)

This map shows the locations of detention centers that were identified by multiple witnesses. Using satellite imagery, Human Rights Watch asked the victims and defectors to point out the buildings where torture took place. Former detainees and defectors corroborated the findings by describing the facilities in detail and drawing layouts of the floors where they were detained and interrogated.It also sets out the  names of the known commanders. The  report sets out where there is evidence of direct, indirect or command responsibility of the commanders, but Human Rights Watch does not have evidence of this applying in each case.

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

They took five of us out to the corridor. Four were waiting while the fifth was being interrogated. We were standing up, blindfolded, and handcuffed. They beat me. An officer placed a gun to my head, he gave me electric shocks with a stun-gun, and he made me sit on a stick in the ground [sexually abusing me]. There were no real questions– just accusations. But I denied everything.

The officer then called a soldier and told him to suspend me in the shabeh position. I didn’t know at that time what it was. They took me out to the corridor. There was a tall double-door leading to the corridor with the cells. There was a ring installed on top of the door that doesn’t usually open. They handcuffed me behind my back and then handcuffed me to the ring so that only my toes could reach the ground, causing pressure on the wrists and shoulders. Anybody passing by hit me. They kept me like this for 48 hours. I couldn’t move for three days after this and I needed help to go to the bathroom.

—Thirty-one-year-old Halim, who was detained in Daraa governorate on August 8, 2011, and later transferred Branch 291 where he spent about 20 days. [43]

***

They made me bend over and took a piece of ice and pushed it into my anus six times. Then they tied me and hung me upside down for six hours. The ice-torture was difficult. I was ready to confess that I had owned a tank. We were six people in a small cell that used to be a toilet. They were running the air-conditioner so it was very cold. I started throwing up and suffered from diarrhea.

—Thirty-one-year-old Khalil, who was detained in the Idlib governorate on June 29, 2011, and spent about two months in several places of detention, including six days in Branch 291. [44]

***

After the first week they took me for questioning. They read to me what they said I had confessed to while in the Military Intelligence branch in Aleppo. But the information  was completely different [from what I told the interrogators there]. It said that I had confessed to carrying weapons, that I was part of gangs, that we communicated with other gangs and so on. I denied everything for three hours. Then they placed me facing a wall with my hands cuffed behind my back for seven or eight hours.

The next day the interrogation continued. They started threatening me and my family. They said that if I don’t confess they would bring in my mother and siblings and rape and abuse them. He was going through my phone, asking about names.

They beat me with batons and electric cables before they again made me stand for three, four hours before they brought me back to the cell. The same routine took place three, four days in a row.

We could hear people from other cells being tortured, including women who were screaming when they slapped them.

Some people were held standing against the wall deprived of sleep for up to seven days. They would just lose it and started confessing to everything without even being asked.

—Fawzi who was detained for the second time on August 6 and spent about 70 days in detention, including about 40 days in Branch 291. [45]

***

Because they said I organized demonstrations they tortured me with electricity. They hooked it up to my ear. I was in a cell with 40 people. Twenty-seven of them were from Idlib, 10 from Daraa, and the rest from Deir al-Zour. We were three floors underground … They beat me in the interrogation room while I was blindfolded. I was standing and one person was beating me. I confessed to going to demonstrations … They took me to another guy who put the electricity on my ears. This was in one big room. There were lots of people standing there.

—Ammar who was detained in June 2011 and spent almost two months in detention. [46]

   

Branch 235 (“Palestine Branch”) – Damascus [47]

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Brig. Gen. Muhammad Khallouf [48]

Location:

Coordinates: 33.491501N, 36.319008E

Damascus city. Mohallak al-Janoubi (the Southern Interchange) road on the northwestern corner of intersection with Damascus Airport Motorway.

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with objects; dulab; electrocution; shabeh; threats.

General comments:

Several former detainees said that Branch 235, or the “Palestine Branch” as it is often called, is one of the most feared detention facilities. According to former detainees, Branch 235 has several underground floors where detainees are kept. Former detainees said that they were held on the second or third underground floors. Detainees were interrogated both on the third underground floor and on the ground floor.

  

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

They interrogated me twice. The first time they used the dulab. They put my legs and head through the tire and beat me up with cables. The more I moved, the more they beat me. They hit me more than 100 times in an hour. My legs were so swollen afterwards I could hardly walk. The second time they used electricity. I was kneeling and they used an electric stick to shock me on my stomach, back, and neck.

I was placed in a small cell with no ventilation or light. There were about 60 people in there. The cell measured three by four meters. We took turns sleeping and we took turns taking our shirts off and waving them to move the air.

—Marwan, who was detained in Daraa in June 2011 and spent about four months in detention, including about a week in Branch 235. [49]

***

When I arrived at the branch they welcomed me by beating me 12 times with cables. Others were hit more. I was in the Palestine Branch for two days. They summoned me to interrogation. The other detainees said that I would not be hit if I stuck with the confession. I was hit five times with cables during that interrogation. During the next interrogation they told me that the crime was very serious and that they would send me to the General Intelligence Directorate. They hit me 15 times.

—Twenty-three-year-old Rudi, who was detained in Aleppo on October 17 and spent 47 days in detention, including two days in Branch 235 .[50]

When we arrived at Branch 235 they started beating us as soon as they pulled us out of the bus. They gathered us in a big room and started calling out names. The detainees with identification cards were sent to cells. About 50 people didn’t have any papers and officers told the soldiers to “have fun with them.”

I was sitting on my knees, facing the wall. They hit us on the back of the neck with a thick stick. When they called somebody’s name, five people would be standing at the door and beat us with cable-wires, sticks, and batons. They beat us for about 30 minutes before they took us to the next room and stripped us naked. Then they started beating us with a thick belt, which we called the “five-layer-belt” because they had wrapped several belts together with plastic tape.

—Sixteen-year-old Talal, who was detained in Daraa on April 1 together with his 23-year-old brother. He spent 11 days in detention, nine of them in Branch 235 .[51]

***

They took my fingerprints and beat me. I was barefoot. They beat my head against the wall and then they took me to the interrogation room where they continued to beat me and gave me electric shocks. After 30 minutes they took me two floors underground where they kept me for five days.

There was another interrogation. It was the same thing, but this time I noticed that somebody was writing. Somebody beat me with their fist and chipped my tooth. They pushed me to the ground and continued to beat me. They made me fingerprint four different documents.

—Twenty-one-year-old Samer, who was detained in Tal Kalakh on May 14 and spent five days in detention in Branch 235. [52]

***

On the eighth day they moved me to Branch 235 together with another detainee who was there because he had been interviewed by Al Jazeera. I stayed there for eight days and they beat me all the time. The Al Jazeera guy was kept in handcuffs all the time and he later told me that he was kept in a solitary cell. We were ten people together in a four-by-four meter large cell. We were all from different places.

—Twenty-nine-year-old Wael, who was detained in Tal Kalakh on May 14 and spent eight days in detention in Branch 235. [53]

***

I was there ten to fifteen days. Right away there was violence. They put me in a solitary cell after 30 minutes of beating. I was in the cell for five days. The only food I got was bread. There was water in the cell, from a faucet, but it was dirty. It ran yellow and sometimes red. During the interrogation they would ask me if I carried weapons and I said no. They hung me from my wrists, shabeh, so I was just on my toes. They would throw water on me and hit me with an electrical cable. They would throw hot water – it wasn’t boiling, but hot – on us when we passed out to wake us up ... There was torture every day except the last two.

—Nabih, who was detained in Latakia in June 2011. [54]

***

After we arrived at the branch they put me in a room, where from the sounds of voices it seemed like more than 15 people beat me … I was in the room for a while, they left me on my knees for three hours. It was like a corridor with people coming and going. As they came and went they would beat me with their hands, legs, Kalashnikovs [assault rifles], and electrical cable, and they were swearing. Then they put me in a room with an interrogator …

The interrogator is not a human being. He is not normal. He was giving orders to four other people in the room. They put me on the ground. It is a beating you cannot describe. They beat my back and feet with a big electric cable. I couldn’t sleep on my back for 25 days. There are still scars on my back.

They threatened to bring my mother. They asked whether I wanted them to bring my wife here and have all the guys sleep with her. Let your God come release you … I reached a point where I could not feel at all …

Then he took me down to the prison … Two guards met us behind a big metal door … These two untied my hands and blindfold and started beating me again. They beat me in an unimaginable way. It was just with their hands and just on the face.

You don’t understand how difficult it is to bear the beating from the prison guards. They know better than anyone how to swear, humiliate, and beat. You can’t take it … It takes you away from anything called humanity.

—Samir, who was detained in Damascus in July 2011. [55]

   

Branch 248 – Damascus [56]

Location:

Coordinates: 33.507938N, 36.274066E

Damascus city. “Street of Branches.”

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with object; electrocution; dulab.

General Comments

Branch 248 has detention facilities underground.

  

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

When I arrived at Branch 248 I was screaming from pain because my legs were broken [from gunshot injuries]. They laid me down in an underground corridor. After five minutes five guys came and started to beat me. I was still blindfolded, but I was able to see a bit under the blindfold. They punched me in the face so I started bleeding from the nose. They left me alone when I pretended to be unconscious. Afterwards another guy came and smacked my head into the ground. Finally an officer came. They wanted to transfer me to a cell, but there was no room for anybody with broken legs so they transferred me to hospital 601 instead. After six days in the hospital they took me back to 248. In the cell, two guards held my legs apart and beat me in the groin.

—Thirty-two-year-old Hussein, who was detained in Da raa at the end of April after he was shot in both legs. [57]

In Branch 248 we were five in a cell that was 3.5 meters by 150 cm. I knew the size from the tiles. There was no blanket, nothing. There was no bathroom in the cell. We had a bottle of water which we would fill from the bathroom. I spent 20 days in the cell before they moved me back to Branch 291.

—Ammar, who was detained in June 2011.[58]

***

When I arrived [from the military intelligence facility in Homs to Branch 248] the treatment was also very bad. They took my clothes off and blindfolded me. They were beating me while I was naked, in front. They beat me with whips all over my body. My whole body swelled. They took me to a solitary cell. The torture noises were much worse here. It was forbidden to sit or to sleep. I was chained and standing the whole time. For more than three days I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t close my eyes. The next day they took me to the head of the branch. He said, look, you confessed. He showed me my finger prints and said that the old interrogators would testify against me.

They took me to the torture room and I would hear noises that were just unreal. When they took me to this room they were mostly beating me with a whip. I was blindfolded. They used electricity, how am I going to tell you, in sensitive places. Now it is four months later and there are still marks on my body. After I was tortured they put me in my cell. For three days I was just tortured. No interrogation, nothing. No one spoke with me. After three days of torture they took me to interrogation. I was here for six [days]. I was not allowed to sleep, not allowed to sit. If they saw me sitting they would put me in the tire and would hit me with a whip.

—Munir, who was arrested in May 2011 in Homs .[59]

   

Branch 227 – Damascus[60]

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Maj. Gen. Rustom Ghazali (head of branch) [61]

Location:

Coordinates: 33.510586N, 36.274689E

Damascus city. May 6 Street on the corner with Omar Bin Abdulaziz Street, near the Ministry of Higher Education.

Documented Methods of Torture and Ill-Treatment

Beating; falaqa; shabeh; exposure to cold; stress positions.

General Comments

Branch 227 is the Military Intelligence branch responsible for Damascus governorate outside of Damascus city. One former detainee said that the underground detention facility included both individual cells and a big room measuring about 100 square meters, which held about 400 people when he was there. At some point, according to this detainee, some of the older detainees were transferred to a different cell with slightly better conditions . [62]

  

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

They brought me to confess on August 12. There weren’t really any questions – mostly beatings. They used falaqa and shabeh on me and soaked me with cold water. I passed out twice during the interrogation session. They used cold water to wake me up both times. The torture took place in the corridor. They also brought 14/15-year-old boys there. When I went back to the cell, the other people in the cell were crying. They had heard my screams. The skin on my right foot broke because of the swelling from the beating.

—Fifty-seven-year-old Mustafa, who was detained in early August 2011 and spent almost two months in detention. Human Rights Watch saw scars on Mustafa’s right foot, allegedly from swelling after the beating.[63]

***

From the army base they took us to Branch 227 where we arrived around noon. They tortured us until 9 p.m. In the beginning they kept us standing on our toes with our hands up in the corridor, blindfolded. Anybody walking by would hit us. Then they pushed us down the stairs – about 15-20 steps – and we were placed in a cell measuring about two by six meters with 50-60 detainees.

On the fifth day the guards summoned us for interrogation. The interrogator was kind, but then three officers took me to the torture room. They hit me a lot, but didn’t say anything. After ten days in detention they released me, but gave me a paper saying that I should come back to Branch 227 for further interrogation.

—Twenty-year-old Lutfi, who was detained in his military unit after an officer accused him and four others of planning to defect.[64]

  

Branch 215 – Damascus [65]

Officers in charge of facility:

Location:

Coordinates: 33.507379N, 36.274010E

Damascus. On “Street of Branches,” next to the Carlton Hotel.

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with object; shabeh.

General Comments:

Branch 215 has detention facilities underground. One former detainee said that there were 76 people in a cell measuring 11 by 3.80 meters. [67]

  

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

When we arrived they started punching, kicking, and beating us with cables. The next morning they started interrogating us. We received no food for four days. They brought water only on the third day. Those asking for food were beaten.

On the fifth day it was my turn to be interrogated. They took me to a different room and started reading the statement from Idlib. When I said that they had forced me to confess about the Kalashnikov somebody handcuffed me to a pipe below the ceiling. This was around 2 p.m. I could just barely reach the floor with my toes. The next day a kind guard loosened the hand-cuffs a bit so I could stand on my feet. I was kept like this for three days. I was not even allowed to go to the toilet.

—Thirty-one-year-old Khalil, who was detained during a protest in a town close to the Turkish border on June 29 and spent five days in Branch 215. Khalil showed Human Rights Watch marks from the handcuffs on his wrists.[68]

***

They moved us to a cell measuring 11 by four meters with 76 people. There was no air-conditioner, no bathroom. We were allowed to go to the toilet three times per day. Food was very bad. Many people were about to die because of medical problems such as heart, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and allergies. During the 40 days I spent there, I showered only two or three times. There were lots of lice. The guards would hit us when we went to the bathroom, but they didn’t take me out for interrogation.

—Yamen, who was detained in the Daraa governorate on July 3 and spent two months in detention, including 40 days in Branch 215.[69]

   

Branch 245 – Daraa [70]

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Colonel Loai al-Ali (head of branch)[71]

Location:

Coordinates: 32.627697N, 36.09988E

Daraa city. Hanano street.

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with object; hanging upside down; dulab.

General Comments:

Former detainees said that they were kept underground, usually for a relatively short time, before they were transferred to detention facilities in Damascus. Witnesses described the detention facility as having ten cells along a two-meter-wide corridor, that torture took place in the corridor, and that there is an interrogation room at the end of the corridor.

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

As we walked down the stairs people on both sides were hitting us with cable-wires and other objects. You didn’t know where the blows were coming from. Then they took us to the interrogation room.

It was brutal. They didn’t ask any questions. They just hit us. You didn’t know when you would be hit or hit a wall.

They took us out of the interrogation room and made us face the wall, standing on our knees. If somebody moved, relaxed, or tried to adjust their position, somebody would hit them. We were blindfolded. We stayed there until a new shift arrived, perhaps for one day.

We only spent 15-20 minutes in the interrogation room. They used the tire method on us. At first an officer interrogated and tortured me, then another came. They kept accusing me of having killed two people.

—Mohsin, who was detained in Daraa near the Omari mosque on March 23.[72]

***

They removed our blindfold when we arrived and then they took us underground. They made us stand up against the wall. The cells were packed. They took us one by one for interrogation. They asked about armed people. When I said that I didn’t know anybody, they told me to “just pick somebody.”

They insulted us, calling us “traitors” and cursing us. They took us to a yard outside, made us lay down, and started beating us. They told us that they didn’t torture people in Daraa, so we’d better confess before they transferred us to Damascus.

—Ayoub, who was detained in Daraa in April together with his brother.[73]

  

Aleppo Branch[74]

Location:

Coordinates: 36.199165N, 37.108498E

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with object; basat al-reeh; shabeh, electrocution, falaqa; threats.

General comments:

Former detainees said that detainees were kept underground, but that at least some interrogations took place on the second floor. One detainee estimated that there were about 400 people in the underground facility when he was there in August 2011.[75]

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

They first beat me for a day with just some very basic questioning. At night they started the interrogation. I was in a big hall. There were many other people there. I was in my underwear, blindfolded so I couldn’t tell exactly how many people and guards were beating us. They took away our possessions and took more info.

They took me to a one by 1.5 meter cell. I was there alone for about four, five hours, and then they took me for interrogation.

When they found out that I was a pharmacist they started beating me more, saying that as a government-educated professional I should support the government. I had also lived in Saudi Arabia, so they beat me more for that. It lasted for five, six hours. They just kept accusing me of different things and forcing me to confess, asking for names.

Then I went back to the cell. It was four days of interrogations. Ten days in total. They didn’t take me out for the last six days.

On the first night of interrogations they also took me into a torture room. I was blindfolded with hands tied behind my back. They tied me, put me on the ground, and started beating me. They used a type of rack, some board under my legs and a cable that they turned to crack and twist my legs back. And they beat me with a cable.

—Fawzi, who was detained in Aleppo during a demonstration on April 20 and spent ten days in detention in the Military Intelligence branch in Aleppo. [76]

***

It was the same routine as the first time, but this time they used a different torture method, the shabeh, hanging by the wrists from the ceiling, while being beaten by cables, batons, and electric batons. There were other people hanging next to me, maybe four or five.

They beat me until I fainted or passed out. It hurts to the point when you can’t feel it anymore. They tested it out by putting out a cigarette on me. If you can’t feel it, they stop because there is no point in beating you further.

 Then after six or seven hours they poured water on me and put me into a single cell for several hours while they were working on the others. We could hear people being tortured like that all the time. There are people there who torture like that all the time.

Then they took me for interrogation. I was still bleeding. They asked the same questions. They remembered me from my first detention so the beating increased with punches, slaps, and batons for about one and a half hours.

By this time there were some 400 people [detained] there so they didn’t have time for lengthy interrogations. The guards kept hitting us all the time, when bringing food, taking you to the bathroom, etc.

The next time I was interrogated by a “committee” of interrogators. They asked about our “organization.” They got into my e-mail and saw my communication. The interrogations took place the first three days. They kept me for another four days.

—Fawzi, who was detained for a second time in Aleppo during a demonstration on August 6. He spent 70 days in detention.[77]

***

They took me to the second floor for interrogation. They asked about phone numbers, e-mail, and Facebook accounts. They claimed that I had two accounts, but I denied it.

The next Friday they took me at 8 a.m. and interrogated me until 9 p.m. They used falaqa. They used a wooden stick and leather to tie my legs together and then they hit me on the soles of my feet. It hurt. They hit me a lot.

They then hung me up in shabeh while they used a cable to hit me on my back. They kept me like this the whole day. They just took me down five times to give me the falaqa. They also gave me electric shocks. They placed wires on each leg. When they threatened to attach the wires between my legs I admitted to everything that they wanted. The interrogation continued the next day, but by then I was not able to stand on my own.

—Rudi, who was detained for the second time in Aleppo on October 17 and spent 47 days in detention, including about five days in the Military Intelligence branch in Aleppo.[78]

 

  

Branch 271 – Idlib[79]

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Brig. Gen. Nawfel al-Hussein (head of branch)[80]

Location:

Coordinates: 35.922901N, 36.634163E

Idlib city. On the same street as the statue of Ibrahim Hananu, around 300 meters to the south of the statue, in front of the Political Security branch.

Documented methods of torture and ill-treatment:

Beating; beating with object; shabeh.

General Comments:

Former detainees said that detainees were kept both underground (four or five steps down) and on the ground floor. One former detainee estimated that there were 200 to 300 detainees in the detention facility. [81] There were about 20 single cells on the underground floor.

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

They started torturing me immediately. They started hitting me with cables, but I couldn’t see anything because I was blindfolded. They hit me on the head and shoulders. They didn’t hit me as much as the others because my family had paid them money, which I found out afterwards. Two guys were standing behind me and hit me when there were no questions. They allowed me to rest for two hours, then they brought me in for a second interrogation. It was the same questions. I gave them names of people who had died to not get anybody in trouble, but they knew that they had been killed and hit me again.

—Thirty-seven-year-old Yousef, who was detained in Jisr al-Shughour on September 14. He was detained for two months, including one month in the Military Intelligence branch in Idlib.[82]

***

From the first day of the detention they started taking me to interrogations, every day for a week, but for different lengths of time, from half an hour to eight hours. They found some revolutionary songs on my mobile, so they were beating me for that.

Then they took me to the corridor and hung me up in shabeh. Whoever walked by could beat me. The longest time I stayed there was three hours, but others stayed even longer – up to six or seven hours.

After seven days they moved me to a better cell and brought me better food to make me change my mind and call my brother [to convince him to turn himself in]. The cell was five by eight or ten meters and there were 250-300 detainees there. The cell smelled like shit so even the single cell felt better.

On the 13th day I called my brother. I just couldn’t take it anymore. They told me to ask him to come. But my brother didn’t pick up. He knew I was detained. Then they took me to the [Idlib] Central Prison.

—Isam who was detained from his shop in a town near the Turkish border on July 31 because his brothers had participated in demonstrations. He spent 53 days in detention, including 13 in Branch 271.[83]

***

When we arrived at the Military Intelligence branch in Idlib they started interrogating us, asking us the same questions about smuggling. When I told them that I had confessed under torture they started beating me until I again agreed to confess to anything.

They put me into a big room with perhaps 70 people. There was no room to sleep. It was on the same floor as the interrogation room. They just gave us little pieces of bread with potatoes and labneh [strained yoghurt]. Several prisoners had infections and problems breathing. I stayed there for one night and then they moved us to the Criminal Investigative branch.

—Hassib, who was detained in the town of Bdama during the last week of Ramadan.[84]

  

Homs Branch

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Muhammad Zamreni[85]

Location:

Coordinates: 34.719236N, 36.708575E

Al Hajj Atef Square in the Al-Mahatta neighborhood.

Documented Methods of Torture and Ill-Treatment

Beating; beating with object; electrocution; shabeh; dulab; falaqa, balanco.

General Comments:

Former detainees told Human Rights Watch that detainees were kept in two buildings in the Military Intelligence branch in Homs. One former detainee estimated that there were about 300 other detainees in the cell where he was kept..

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

They brought us inside the base and marched us between two lines of soldiers who were beating us with cables. In a corner of an open space they handcuffed me to a guy who had a broken leg. Then they brought me to an interrogation room. On the way I could hear people screaming. I know I was inside a building even though I was blindfolded. I could hear the interrogation.

Once they got to me they started saying that I was the leader of the revolution and asking me what was going on in my battalion. I said I didn’t know so they used an electric stun-gun on me and beat me with cables. They handcuffed me to a pipe in the ceiling so I couldn’t touch the floor. I was hanging like this for six hours. Three people kept beating me, asking questions. They threw water at me and used stun-guns. When I didn’t talk they moved me to a cell. It was three by three meters and they packed about 25 people in there. We were squeezed and kneeling on the floor. We spent the night like that. The next day they started the interrogation again.

They pushed my legs and head through a tire, flipped me on my back, tied my legs, and started beating me on the soles of my feet. They kept torturing me for seven days. On the eighth day they moved me to the Palestinian Branch in Damascus.

—Twenty-one-year-old Samer, who was detained in Tal Kalakh on May 14 and spent eight days in detention in the Military Intelligence branch in Homs.[86]

***

In the morning on the second day they brought me up, blindfolded, to torture me. There were a lot of them, perhaps 10 people, hitting me in the face, stomach, and legs. They used the balanco method on me – it is like a chain that they hang meat on.

They raised me from my legs so that all my weight was on my hands and legs. The cable cut off my circulation. There is a wooden beam in the ceiling and they hung me from it with just my toes touching the floor. This was the hardest torture, worse than electricity. I told them, “I will confess to everything. Just bring me down.” I told them, “For God’s sake, take me down.” There were three to four people next to me in the same state. I could tell from the sounds next to me and the yelling, and I said, “Let me down, let me down.”

They took me to an office with an officer. He had a whip – sort of like an electrical cable; and they raised my legs and he started beating me on my whole body. He was interrogating me, saying that they had my camera and that they knew that I was sending material to Al Jazeera. They took my head, pulled my hair, and hit my head on the table. The next day they beat me with a whip.

—Munir, who was arrested in May 2011 in Homs.[87]

  

Latakia Branch [88]

Officers in charge of facility:

  • Maj. Gen. Riad al Ahmed (head of branch)[89]
  • First Ass. Abu Ali Masri, (head of interrogation)[90]

Location:

Coordinates: 35.52067N, 35.794256E

Mashrou` Al Awqaf, in front of the Yassine Mosque.

Documented Methods of Torture and Ill-Treatment

Beating; beating with object; stress positions (standing); basat al-reeh.

General Comments

The Military Intelligence branch in Latakia has a detention facility underground, about ten steps down a staircase.

Statements by victims and eyewitnesses:

An hour after I arrived they took me to the interrogation room. The room had just a lamp. They told me not to move and that if I moved they would hit me. My hands were tied and I was blindfolded. I just stood straight. This lasted for about eight hours. I was ready to say anything to get me out of there, but they wouldn’t listen and told me to shut up. Eventually I fell over.

Then they tied my hands and feet to a wooden stick. They put a tire around my knees and flipped me over so that my face was on the floor and two of them stepped on the stick on both sides. They beat me with a cable. They released the handcuffs twice to make the blood flow back in my legs and then they put me back. They didn’t ask any questions for about four hours. Afterwards I couldn’t stand on my feet so they dragged me back to the cell. I can’t say how many days I was in that cell. I could hear the voices of other detainees, but I couldn’t talk to them. At some point they took me to the major general who was in charge of the branch. He wanted me to work for them, but I refused.

—Kamal, who was detained in Latakia on April 22.[91]

***

[After arriving to the facility] they told me to call my dad and to tell him to pick me up from a particular location. I called my dad and told him I was detained and then they started beating me. They beat me with an electrical cable on my kidneys, chest, and feet. They put me on the flying carpet. They had a wooden stick. They put it in the rear, but they didn’t use it with me. The officer wouldn’t let them. I stayed there for six days and still have back pain. I was in a single cell. They left me for three days with no food. Finally, they gave me a piece of bread, that’s it. There was water from a faucet that hits your knee when you are sitting in the cell. It was a low ceiling, you can’t stand. You have to sit with your knees to your chest. The bathroom was outside. You knock on the door to ask them to take you to the bathroom and they beat you. There was no light inside.

—Nabih, who was detained in Latakia in June 2011.[92]

 

[37]The Council of the European Union imposed travel restrictions and an asset freeze on Abdul Fatah Kudsiyeh (also spelled Abd Al-Fatah Qudsiyah) on May 9, 2011, for being “involved in the repression against the civilian population” in Syria. “Council I No. 442/2011 of 9 May 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria,” Official Journal L 121/1, May 10, 2011, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:121:0001:0010:EN:PDF (accessed June 25, 2012).

[38] Human Rights Watch interviewed nine people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[39] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Sayid, June 20, 2012.

[40] Human Rights Watch interview with Amine, November 2, 2011; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Sayid, June 20, 2012.

[41] According to Amine, Brig. Gen. Salah Hamad personally participated in his torture. Amine, a former career military officer, had previously served with Hamad and immediately recognized his voice. According to Amine, Hamad admitted that it was he when Amine asked. Human Rights Watch interview with Amine, November 2, 2011.

[42] All coordinates are given in the format Latitude, Longitude using the decimal system.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with Halim, November 3, 2011.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Khalil, January 8, 2012.

[45] Human Rights Watch interview with Fawzi, January 6, 2012.

[46] Human Rights Watch Interview with Ammar, January 9, 2012.

[47] Human Rights Watch interviewed ten people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[48] Human Rights Watch interview with Ghadi, January 7, 2012. Media reported that Muhammad Khallouf defected in January, 2012, but Human Rights Watch has not been able to verify this. See for example, Shaher `Ayyad, “Khaddam Reveals to Al-Masry Al-Youm Details of the Failure of the Assad Family’s Attempt to Flee,” Al-Masry Al-Youm, January 30, 2012, http://www.almasryalyoum.com/node/629086 (accessed June 25, 2012).

[49] Human Rights Watch interview with Marwan, November 1, 2011.

[50] Human Rights Watch interview with Rudi, January 6, 2012.

[51] Human Rights Watch interview with Talal, November 4, 2011.

[52] Human Rights Watch interview with Samer, July 28, 2011.

[53] Human Rights Watch interview with Wael, July 28, 2011.

[54] Human Rights Watch Interview with Nabih, January 7, 2012

[55] Human Rights Watch phone interview with Samir, December 14, 2011.

[56] Human Rights Watch interviewed eight people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[57] Human Rights Watch interview with Hussein, November 2, 2011.

[58] Human Rights Watch interview with Ammar, January 9, 2012.

[59] Human Rights Watch phone interview with Munir, November 21, 2011.

[60] Human Rights Watch interviewed three witnesses who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[61] Mustafa told Human Rights Watch that he was brought before Rustom Ghazali and that Ghazali was the one to give orders to beat him. Human Rights Watch interview with Mustafa, October 27, 2011. See also Human Rights Watch interview with Fares, May 23, 2011; Ghadi, January 7, 2012. The Council of the European Union imposed travel restrictions and an asset freeze on Rustom Ghazali (also spelled Rustum Ghazali) on May 9, 2011, for being “involved in the repression against the civilian population” in Syria. Council Regulation (EU) No. 442/2011 of 9 May 2011.

[62] Human Rights Watch interview with Mustafa, October 27, 2011.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Human Rights Watch interview with Lutfi, January 8, 2012.

[65] Human Rights Watch interviewed four witnesses who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[66] Human Rights Watch interview with Omar, June 11, 2012.

[67] Human Rights Watch interview with Yamen, November 2, 2011.

[68] Human Rights Watch interview Khalil, January 8, 2012.

[69] Human Rights Watch interview with Yamen, November 2, 2011.

[70] Human Rights Watch interviewed six people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[71] Human Rights Watch interview with Halim, November 3, 2011. The Council of the European Union imposed travel restrictions and an asset freeze on Loai al-Ali (also spelled Lu’ai al-Ali) on November 14, 2011, for being “responsible for the violence against protesters” in Daraa. “Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1151/2011  of 14 November 2011  implementing Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria,” Official Journal L 296/3, November 15, 2012, http://www.damaskus.diplo.de/contentblob/3335114/Daten/1737139/COUNCIL_IMPLEMENTING_EU_REGULATION_No_1151_2011_of_14Nov11_Syria_eng.pdf (accessed June 25, 2012).

[72] Human Rights Watch interview with Mohsin, November 3, 2011.

[73] Human Rights Watch interview with Ayoub, November 4, 2011.

[74] Human Rights Watch interviewed three people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[75] Human Rights Watch interview with Fawzi, January 6, 2012.

[76] Human Rights Watch interview with Fawzi, January 6, 2012.

[77] Human Rights Watch interview with Fawzi, January 6, 2012.

[78] Human Rights Watch interview with Rudi, January 6, 2012.

[79] Human Rights Watch interviewed seven people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[80] Human Rights Watch interview with Isam, January 7, 2012; Ghadi, January 7, 2012; Imad, January 8, 2012; Najib, January 10, 2012.

[81] Human Rights Watch interview with Isam, January 7, 2012.

[82] Human Rights Watch interview with Yousef, January 9, 2012.

[83] Human Rights Watch interview with Isam, January 7, 2012.

[84] Human Rights Watch interview with Hassib, January 7, 2012.

[85] Human Rights Watch interview with Ghadi, January 7, 2012.

[86] Human Rights Watch interview with Samer, July 28, 2011.

[87] Human Rights Watch phone interview with Munir, November 21, 2011.

[88] Human Rights Watch interviewed five people who suffered or witnessed torture in this facility.

[89] Human Rights Watch interview with Talib, January 10, 2012.

[90] Human Rights Watch interview with Salim, January 12, 2012.

[91] Human Rights Watch interview with Kamal, January 10, 2012.

[92] Human Rights Watch Interview with Nabih, January 7, 2012.