ANKARA

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians searching for their relatives have stepped up their efforts after the US adopted the Caesar Act, a law which imposes sanctions on the Syrian regime for war crimes.

Families, who have long given up on ever finding their relatives, click on web links where photos of people killed in regime prisons are posted, in a desperate attempt to confirm the death of their loved ones.

Imaduddin Rasit, the founding member of a France-based association monitoring Syrian casualties of war and prisoners, said more than 6,000 photos of people tortured to death were shared on the internet.

The photos were first shared in March 2015.

Rasit said 731 relatives of the victims got in contact with his association and 85% of them shared personal information of the victims, adding half of them were also ready to testify in the court.

He said their official webpage was visited by nearly a million people following the implementation of the Caesar Act and more families were getting in touch with the association.

He further noted that his association published up to 60 photos, not shared before, in February taking care of the sensitivity surrounding the issue.

The Caesar Act is named after the military police who leaked the photos of people tortured to death in Assad prisons in 2014; the act went in force as of June 17.

The photos taken by the “Caesar” were first published by Anadolu Agency in 2014 and they made a tremendous impact globally in the sense of proving the war crimes committed by the Assad regime, including the systematic torture and starving prisoners to death.

On Dec. 18, 2019, the US Senate adopted a draft law envisaging additional sanctions on people and organizations aiding activities of the Assad regime and its supporters including Russia and Iran.

On Dec. 21, US President Donald Trump signed the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, which was included in the 2020 defense budget.

Syria has been ravaged by a civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protesters.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN estimates.

* Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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