Far' FalastinFar' Falastin ( "Palestine Branch"), also known as Branch 235, is a prison operated by Syrian Intelligence under the charge of Brig. Gen. Muhammad Khallouf located in Damascus, notorious for accounts of torture, coercive interrogation, and deplorable conditions related by its former detainees.
The Branch was established in 1969 as the liaison between the Syrian government and the various Palestinian entities permitted to operate in Syria (Fatah, as-Sa'iqa, DFLP, and PFLP). Although it has been associated with torture at least since 1990, the prison gained widespread notoriety in the wake of the September 11 attacks due to detainees suspected of ties to terrorist organizations being sent there through extraordinary renditions, primarily by the United States, as a means of outsourcing torture. The detention center is reportedly quite large, run by some 500 employees, but the majority of the reports regarding torture and abusive interrogation focus on the three underground floors.
ConditionsThe cells are described as being the size of a coffin, or 2 by 1.5 meters.
The cells are infested with cockroaches, fleas, rats, mice, and lice. The scarce amount of food given to the prisoners causes extreme weight loss. Prisoners are given one bottle for urine and another for drinking water. Detainees are reportedly allowed out of their cells for a few minutes to use the restroom three times per day, except on Fridays when a longer break is allowed to take a shower and do laundry. Access to the prison yard for natural sunlight is limited to ten minutes per month. Medical care is denied completely as a matter of routine.