Syria accused of 'massacre' as hundreds of bodies found
Several hundred bodies have been found in a town near Damascus after a ferocious assault by the Syrian army, a watchdog said today, as activists accused government forces of another gruesome "massacre." Grisly videos issued by opposition militants showed dozens of charred and bloodied bodies lined up in broad daylight in a graveyard, and others lying wall-to-wall in rooms in a mosque in the town of Daraya.
At least 320 people were killed in a five-day onslaught on Daraya by troops battling to crush insurgents who have regrouped in the outskirts of the capital, according to a toll from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground, described it as a "massacre" by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and said many victims had been summarily executed and their bodies burnt.
"The shabiha (pro-regime) militias... have been transformed into a killing machines that threatens the Syrian people and our future," it said.
Human rights groups have accused the regime of committing many atrocities since the uprising against Assad's government erupted in March last year, and a UN panel said earlier this month it was guilty of crimes against humanity.
"An odious massacre committed by the gangs of the Assad regime in the Abu Sleiman Addarani Mosque," said a commentary with a video posted by opposition militants on YouTube that showed dozens of bodies lined up in dimly lit rooms.
In another LCC video, Daraya's dead, among them at least two children, were shown being prepared for burial in mass graves. Palm leaves were strewn on the bodies that were covered in blankets and laid in a hastily dug trench.
State media said Daraya, a mainly Sunni Muslim town of some 200,000 people, was being "purified of terrorist remnants." "Our valiant armed forces cleared Daraya of the remnants of armed terrorist groups which committed crimes that traumatised the citizens of the town and destroyed public and private property," the government newspaper Ath-Thawra said.
At least 183 people were killed nationwide on Saturday, the Observatory said, as the brutal conflict that has convulsed Syria for 17 months showed no signs of abating. (...)