At least 7,000 Syrians were tortured to death in government detention centres in Syria, according to a report released on Thursday by the Human Rights Watch. It was based on eight months of research on 53,275 smuggled photographs showing tortured Syrians, Al Jazeera reported.

In January 2014, a defector codenamed ‘Cesar’ had smuggled images of detainees’ bodies photographed by his colleagues and himself. His role in the Syrian military police was to photograph and document the bodies of people brought to military hospitals from their detention centres. In his photographs, there are visible signs of starvation, brutal beatings, strangulation and other forms of torture on the detainees' bodies.

The 86-page report titled “If the Dead Could Speak: Mass Deaths and Torture in Syria’s Detention Facilities” includes interviews with families and friends of 27 victims, as well as of former detainees who witnessed people die in detention. It also answers questions on the authenticity of the photographs, among others.