A congressional committee heard the testimony of a Syrian defector who goes by the name of “Caesar” this past week, and was shown graphic images of the Assad regime’s savagery he personally took.
In the images, prisoners are seen brutally beaten, starved, and murdered.
Caesar, a former military photographer, was dressed in a blue rain jacket with the hood up and tied tightly around his face, while wearing a baseball cap, in order to disguise his appearance during the hearing.
With the use of a translator, Caesar told the House Foreign Affairs Committee what he witnessed while working for Bashar al-Assad’s army.
In his testimony, Caesar claimed he smuggled 50,000 photographs of 10,000 dissidents out of Syria with the help of family members, reports Fox News.
In the hearing room some of the photos had been enlarged to poster-size prints and featured bony skeletal remains.
Another showed a man with his left eye gouged out. Others featured young children and the elderly.
“I not only had access to my photographs but others taken by other photographers as well as the state,” Caesar said.
Caesar said he was compelled to show the world the images even if it meant death would be his fate if caught.
“But my work ethic, morals and religion did not allow me to be quiet,” Caesar said.
"What is going on in Syria is a genocidal massacre," Caesar added.
Caesar compared what he had seen in Syria to images of the Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust.
The images may lead to the Obama administration having the ability to prosecute Syrian war crimes.
An international prosecution has been blocked by Russia, as they are what the Wall Street Journal refers to as “the primary patron of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."
But the U.S. and its allies are looking at possible crimes “where individual countries already have jurisdiction—those involving their own nationals or dual citizens who may have been victims or perpetrators in Syria.”
The photos Caesar smuggled out of Syria are helpful in that many of the victims can be named by relatives, and by matching them to passport photos and other nationally established official records.
A separate U.S.-backed group is "investigating detention facilities" and has recovered documents that can identify "who was in charge, who were the torturers, who were giving the orders," Ambassador Stephen Rapp, the U.S. State Department’s global criminal-justice chief, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. “That evidence can "be combined with information from Caesar to show responsibility for specific prisons where on certain dates these deaths, these murders occurred.”
There could be as many as 10,000 victims in Caesar’s images alone.
Photo Credit: Reuters