Gruesome killings mark escalation of violence in Damascus

The Washington Post reports: Scores of mutilated, bloodied bodies have been found dumped on the streets and on waste ground on the outskirts of Damascus in recent days, apparently the victims of a surge of extrajudicial killings by Syrian security forces seeking to drive rebel fighters out of the capital and its suburbs.

The scale of the current violence in Damascus eclipses the far-better-publicized battle that is underway for control of Syria’s commercial capital, Aleppo, in the north, where gains by rebel forces have enabled journalists to reach the front lines and where government artillery and aerial bombardments are causing most of the civilian casualties.

Activists say the Damascus killings reflect a new government strategy to deter support for the opposition Free Syrian Army by punishing and intimidating civilians living in areas under rebel control. Videos posted online and accounts from residents point to summary executions occurring on a scale unprecedented since the start of the 17-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

According to the Center for the Documentation of Violations in Syria, which lists victims of violence who have been identified, 730 civilians have been killed in Damascus this month and 529 in Aleppo, a disparity that has increased over the past week as the bodies have piled up in the Syrian capital. [Continue reading…]

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