Former Detainee Exposes Horrors of Prison Life at Mezzeh Air Base

In an interview with Zaman al-Wasl, ex-prisoner describes the abuse and death witnessed inside the airport prison, overseen by Syria's brutal Air Force Intelligence

Anas Abdul Salam, a resident from the city of Daraa, escaped from an Assad regime prison to reveal the truth of an underground world in Syria full of death and terror, where detainees await their turn to die.

The former detainee, who now lives in Germany, told Zaman al-Wasl of his experience in the Mezzeh military airport where he was detained at the beginning of 2013 following his arrest on the Jordanian-Syrian border.

"After I was arrested on the Syrian-Jordanian border, I was transferred to the interrogation branch of the Air Force Intelligence. I was put in cell No. 5, a narrow collective cell in which I stayed for nine months. I spent those nine months mostly standing on my feet because of the large number of detainees inside,” Anas explained. He said about 40 detainees were packed into an area not exceeding 6 square meters.

He says he was taken to a large collective hall located near the airstrip at Mezzeh military airport. “The hall was full, full of more than 700 detainees, including many elderly, children, sick and wounded from the torture and beatings they were subjected to by the security forces.”

“The atmosphere of the hall was suffocating because there were no ventilation outlets. Festering wounds, malnutrition, hunger, sleep deprivation and oppression were the cause of the death of many, especially the elderly,” he said.

Abdul Salam revealed that prison officials assigned two of the most notorious criminals from Adra prison, Hamza al-Diri and Muhammad Kahil, to rule over detainees in the hall, where they had the first word and last. They decided who can live and who will die, he said.

The two seized food and beat the elderly with electric cables and other torture instruments like sticks, which were provided by the jailers, Abdul Salam explained, adding that sometimes they even urinated on detainees.

He recalls that the most painful experience was witnessing the sexual assault and rape of children, “which was carried out by Kahil and Diri continuously in front of all detainees in the dormitory and security elements and branch officers."

He explained that other detainees were too afraid to protest against the rape of children, sometimes as young as 12 years old, out of fear of losing their life.

Abdul Salam confirmed that he is filling a lawsuit against intelligence officers in a German court following the announcement by several Syrian lawyers and human rights organizations of their intention to prosecute regime officers responsible for the killing and torture of thousands of Syrians.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.


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