A staggering 1,917 people have died of torture, starvation and lack of medical treatment in Syrian prisons this year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said.

The Britain-based observatory said on Sunday it had documented nearly 2,000 deaths since the start of 2014.

The dead include 27 children under the age of 18 and 11 women.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the widespread use of torture and the conditions in Syrian detention centres.

Al Jazeera could not independently verify the observatory's claims due to restrictions on reporting in Syria. 

The accusation comes after 55,000 photos were smuggled out of Syria earlier in the year by a former Syrian military police photographer, known as ‘Ceasar’, whose images offered a brief glimpse into the abuses within the government prison system.

Emaciated bodies 

The 11,000 digital photos showed the emaciated bodies of dead detainees.

The defector described seeing bodies with "deep wounds and burns and strangulations".

While some of the bodies had been turned over to their relatives, the Observatory said, other families were told to collect a death certificate.

In certain cases families were forced to sign documents stating their relatives were killed by opposition forces, the Syrian Observatory said.

Some blame the lack of accountability as the leading reason for widespread deaths within prison.

"When the killer knows that there is no punishment, he keeps on committing his crimes and commits even more," Rami Abdel ahman, Observatory director told the AFP news agency.

Approximately 200,000 people have been detained by the Syrian regime in jails and other government facilities.

Nearly 190,000 have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. 

Source: AFP