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Syrian opposition: Tortured bodies found in Homs hospital

From Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Tue April 3, 2012
  • Free Syria Army captured Homs hospital from Syrian government forces, activists say
  • President Bashar al-Assad's forces used the hospital as a detention center, activist says
  • CNN could not independently confirm the activists' claim

(CNN) -- Anti-government fighters found the bodies of 78 people, apparently tortured to death, in a refrigerator at a hospital in Homs, Syria, captured from government forces Monday, opposition activists said.

CNN could not independently confirm the activists' claim because the government severely restricts access by international journalists.

The Syrian military used the Homs National Hospital as a detention center "for all those violating the regime's law, meaning opposing the government," said activist Tariq al Homsi, who was in the embattled city.

"We know people were captured and taken there to be tortured, and many activists and youths were taken," he said. "The bodies found had marks of torture. Even though they had gunshot wounds, they were in the shoulder or leg. It appears they died of torture, not the gunshots."

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About 40 fighters with the Free Syria Army raided the hospital, which is in and area of central Homs controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, he said.

"Clashes ensued," and the opposition fighters took control from al-Assad's fighters, he said.

Another activist, Abu Bilal al Homsi, said the 78 bodies have not been identified, but it is believed that most of them were people from the Baba Amr neighborhood.

Opposition activists have made previous claims that the Syrian government was using hospitals for torture.