Several hundred bodies have been found in a town near Damascus after a ferocious assault by the Syrian army, a watchdog said yesterday, as activists accused government forces of another gruesome “massacre.”
A grisly video issued by opposition militants showed bodies lined wall-to-wall in a mosque complex in Daraya after a massive offensive by troops battling to crush insurgents who have regrouped on the outskirts of the capital.
At least 320 corpses were found on Saturday and yesterday, the victims of a five-day onslaught on Daraya, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a network of activists on the ground in Syria, described it as a “massacre” by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and said people in Daraya had been summarily executed and their bodies burnt.
“Shabiha [pro-regime] militias ... have turned into generic killing machines,” it charged, also showing a video of victims being buried in mass graves.
Human rights groups have accused the regime of committing many atrocities since the uprising against al-Assad’s government first erupted in March last year, and a UN panel said earlier this month it was guilty of crimes against humanity.
Militants posted a video on YouTube entitled Massacre at the Abu Sleiman Addarani Mosque in Daraya showing dozens of bodies lined up in dimly lit rooms.
“An odious massacre committed by the gangs of the Assad regime in the Abu Sleiman Addarani Mosque. More than 150 innocent martyrs fell in a brutal campaign by the criminal gangs against the city,” said the commentary with the video, whose authenticity could not be verified.
State TV said Daraya, a mainly Sunni Muslim town of about 200,000 people, was being “purified of terrorist remnants.”
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.
The army claimed to have retaken most of Damascus late last month, after about two weeks of intense fighting across the capital’s southern belt. Most rebel Free Syrian Army fighters were forced out into the nearby countryside, but have since resumed hit-and-run operations, according to activists.
Meanwhile, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa has made his first public appearance in several weeks, ending rumors that he defected.
Reporters yesterday saw al-Sharaa exit his car and walk to his office for a meeting with Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of Iran’s powerful parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy.