Assad forces accused of massacre in Damascus suburb

The New York Times reports: Mass burials in this Damascus suburb on Sunday showed the carnage of the past few days in gruesome detail: scores of bodies lined up on top of each other in long thin graves moist with mud.

A video of what activists described as the fifth grave to be filled showed two small children near the edge. Up close, in the field where there were more bodies than people to wash and prepare them for burial, the scent of decay swirled and gunshot wounds could be seen in the heads of many men.

“The Assad forces killed them in cold blood,” said Abu Ahmad, 40, a resident of Daraya, where the Syrian government has waged a campaign it described as a “cleansing.” “I saw dozens of dead people, killed by the knives at the end of Kalashnikovs, or by gunfire. The regime finished off whole families, a father, mother and their children. They just killed them without any pretext.”

Several other witnesses here and two activist groups have now offered accounts of what has begun to look like one of the deadliest and focused short-term assaults by the Syrian military since the uprising started nearly 18 months ago. Residents described how the Syrian Army first closed off the town, keeping civilians from fleeing, then methodically began a campaign of heavy shelling and house-to-house searches.

Even as many of the details are still difficult to verify or determine — the exact number killed, how many were executed or died from shelling — evidence of what activists described as a massacre continues to mount.

The death toll, rising all week, grew again on Sunday. A day after two activist networks, the Local Coordination Committees and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that more than 200 bodies had been found in the town, activists said another 15 bodies were discovered in the basement of a home in the area. That put the death toll for the week at more than 630 in the city, said the Local Coordination Committees, including 300 people reported executed. [Continue reading…]

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