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Israel weighed bombing Syrian prison crematorium: report

A satellite image dated April 18, 2017 courtesy of DigitalGlobe and released May 15, 2017 by the US Department of State shows the Saydnaya prison, one of Syria's largest detention centres, located 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Damascus
DIGITALGLOBE (DIGITALGLOBE/AFP)

Israel reportedly considered bombing an alleged crematorium installed at a Syrian military prison to cover up the mass killings of thousands of prisoners, but opted against it out of concern that a strike would lead to clashes with the United States or Russia, or an escalation on the northern border.

The Israel Hayom daily reported Sunday that Israel considered the crematorium a moral threat and held confidential talks during which officials weighed striking the Saydnaya military prison outside Damascus.

"A country that lost millions of its people to crematoria cannot stand by when it happens to another people a few dozens of kilometers from our border,” and when most of the world "stands by and remains silent — exactly as it did 70 years ago," the paper quoted a senior official involved in the discussions as saying.

In the end, Israel decided to adhere to its policy of non-intervention in the Syrian civil war, the paper reported.

The US State Department in May released satellite images showing what it said was a crematorium where thousands of copses were being burned by regime forces to cover up the mass slaughter of political prisoners.

The pictures also apparently showed 'snow' melting on the roof of the facility, known among detainees as "the slaughterhouse".

While the US did not give an official estimate for the total number it suspects have been killed at Saydnaya, an Amnesty International report published in February that said as many as 13,000 people have been secretly hanged by Syrian authorities at the prison over the past five years.

At the time, Israeli lawmakers and Jewish groups urged a military response to the alleged atrocities, may citing the inaction of allied forces to respond to Nazi crematoria at death camps during World War II.

Syria's foreign ministry dismissed the US accusation as a "Hollywood screenplay disconnected from reality."

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