Branch 215 is one of the main Assad regime prisons where torture and mass executions are carried out on a daily basis. It is known by many names, including the “Branch of Death.” The number of victims from this branch, which were documented by Caesar (a defected regime soldier) with photographs, runs up to 3,532, who died under torture or from disease and starvation.
The branch became infamous after a few lucky prisoners were spared and spoke out about the horrors carried out against detainees.
Branch 215 is known as the Raid and Storming Company, which is under the Military Intelligence Directorate, established in 1969 under the oversight of Hafez al-Assad, when he was minister of defense.
Branch 215 is located in Kafr Sousa in Damascus, and is just one of the 20 security branches in Military Intelligence where crimes against humanity have been committed in Syria.
The branch is composed of a number of floors and rooms, with prisoners put in wooden or metal rooms as well as in isolation. Detainees are frequently crammed together into small cells, forcing them to take turns sitting and standing during the day.
Among the most prominent people in the branch responsible for the torture that has occurred and is still ongoing is Brigadier General Shafiq Massa, who took part in the repression of protesters in 2011 and gave orders to torture prisoners and to liquidate them inside the branch’s cells.
Major General Hassan Daboul is also known for his severe violations carried out while heading the branch between 2013 and 2016, when he carried out countless violations against prisoners, and then was transferred to head the Military Security branch in Homs, and then was killed in an operation claimed by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, who attacked the branch.
They also include Ahmed al-Ali, the director of the women’s prison in the branch, who oversaw investigations and the torture of prisoners who were stripped naked.
The other officials in the Branch 215 administration mostly work secretly. Prisoners have confirmed that during investigations the officer responsible would enter but would remove his rank before entering, to prevent identification.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.