Activists: Syrian hospitals are torture chamber

(CBS News) In a video shot secretly inside a Syrian regime military hospital in the besieged rebel stronghold of Homs, men are blindfolded and shackled to their beds. The chains are extremely tight.

One man's chest and hand show what appear to be wounds from a severe beating. Instruments of torture lie on a nearby table - an electric cable and a rubber whip.

The hospital staffer, who risked his life to capture this footage, said he's seen doctors assault opposition activists.

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"I have seen detainees being tortured by electrocution, whipping, beating with batons," the man videotaping said, adding they also break their legs by twisting the feet until the leg gives.

This is not the first account of allegations of torture in state run hospitals. This week the U.N. said it had received similar video.

Abu Abdullah is a doctor from the city of Homs. He recently came to Lebanon after he was injured in a rocket attack while he was treating opposition forces in a makeshift clinic.

He told CBS News about one patient whom he tried to evacuate from Homs. He says the convoy was stopped by Syrian army soldiers and the wounded man was taken to a military hospital.

"Two days later, they called his family and told them to come and pick up his body," Abu Abdullah said. "His body was burned and had holes from nails in it."

Most people who are injured in the fighting go to makeshift clinics for treatment. Medical supplies are limited and the conditions are basic, but the alternative - military hospitals - can be a death sentence.

  • Clarissa Ward

    Foreign Correspondent, CBS News