Bashar al-Assad
7 February 2017: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks to a group of Belgian reportersReuters

The justice ministry of Syria has rejected a report by Amnesty International, which alleged that around 13,000 people were executed in the Saydnaya prison near Damascus.

The ministry called the accusations in the report "totally untrue" and added that it was a part of a smear campaign.

Syria's state run news agency Sana published the ministry's statement on Wednesday, (8 February) just a day after Amnesty released the report.

The statement said that "misleading and inciting" media outlets carried the Amnesty report with the intention to harm the Syrian government's reputation.

It also added: "The justice ministry denies and condemns in the strongest terms what was reported because it is not based on correct evidence but on personal emotions that aim to achieve well-known political goals."

According to the Amnesty report, mass executions took place every week in the government prison between September 2011 and December 2015. It also said that the executions were authorised at the highest levels of the Syrian regime.

Every week, or sometimes twice a week, 20 to 50 people who were in support of the opposition were hung in secrecy at the prison, the human rights watchdog said.

Detainees would be reportedly brought to a 'military field court' for a trial that would last only a few minutes before they were executed.

The group said that the government officials did not respond to its request for a comment before the publication of the report.

At least 84 people were interviewed by the activist group including former officials, detainees and guards at the prison.