LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - Secretly shot video footage aired on Monday by a British television station shows what it said were Syrian patients being tortured by medical staff at a state-run hospital in Homs.
The Syrian city has been the focus of an intensifying military crackdown on protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The United Nations says more than 7,500 civilians have died in almost a year of political bloodshed in Syria.
Britain's Channel 4 said it had obtained footage of shocking scenes at the military hospital in Homs, filmed covertly by an employee and smuggled out by a French photojournalist identified only as "Mani".
"I have seen detainees being tortured by electrocution, whipping, beating with batons, and by breaking their legs. They twist the feet until the leg breaks," the employee who made the video told Mani.
WARNING: EXTREMELY DISTURBING FOOTAGE
"They operate without anaesthetics ... I saw them slamming detainees' heads against walls. They shackle the patients to beds. They deny them water. Others have their penises tied to stop them from urinating," the employee said.
The video, which Channel 4 said it could not independently verify, showed wounded, blindfolded men chained to beds. A rubber whip and electrical cable lay on a table in one of the wards. Some patients showed what looked like signs of having been severely beaten.
The hospital employee said some of the men were soldiers who refused to follow orders and others were civilians. The youngest was 14 years old, he said.
The Syrian military was conducting "clean-up" operations on Monday in Homs, where the Red Cross was seeking access to the former rebel stronghold of Baba Amr.
Opposition activists have accused Syrian forces of torture, killing civilians and other crimes but their reports are hard to verify because of government restrictions on independent media. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Michael Roddy)
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES