Hundreds of bodies found in Syrian town - Sydney Morning Herald
Hundreds of bodies were found as Syrian forces launched a deadly assault in the southwestern belt of Damascus on Saturday, in what activists said was a new bid to crush "once and for all" the insurgency in the capital.
Combat helicopters and tanks also pounded rebel-held areas of the battered northern city of Aleppo, an AFP journalist and monitors said, as the army pressed on with its war against fighters seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
The confirmed death toll nationwide on Saturday included at least 34 in the town of Daraya, southwest of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The monitoring group said that 320 bodies were found in Daraya on Saturday and Sunday but it said most of those were believed to have been killed over previous days of the five-day assault by the army.
Daraya is a satellite town outside Damascus with a population of about 200,000.
Militants put out on YouTube a video titled Massacre at the Abu Sleiman Addarani Mosque in Daraya, which showed dozens of bodies on the ground.
A commentary with the video mentioned "an odious massacre committed by the gangs of the Assad regime" at the Abu Sleiman Addarani Mosque.
The commentary claimed 150 innocent people had been killed at the mosque.
The fresh violence erupted a day after new international envoy Lakhdar Brahimi admitted he was "scared" of the enormity of the task he faces to try to end the increasingly ferocious conflict, which is now in its 18th month.
Brahimi, who takes over from former UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan next month, held talks with UN leaders in New York on Friday, saying the Syrian people "will be our first masters".
Annan, a former UN chief, quit earlier this month after the failure of his six-point plan to try to bring peace, which was left in tatters by the relentless bloodshed and divisions among world powers over how to tackle the conflict.
In Aleppo, an AFP correspondent reported heavy shelling by tanks in several neighbourhoods, sending civilians scrambling for safety.
Rebels said earlier this week they controlled 60 per cent of Aleppo but the regime has dismissed the claims and said on Thursday the army had recaptured three Christian neighbourhoods, where most residents support al-Assad.
Opposition fighters said they were digging in for a war of attrition in Aleppo, the once thriving commercial hub where the regime had warned last month of "the mother of all battles".
"The situation? They are trying to advance in the area, we're holding them back, but there are a lot of wounded and martyrs," said one rebel commander in Saif al-Dawla neighbourhood.
August is already the deadliest single month of the conflict with more than 4000 people killed, according to the observatory.
It says some 25,000 have been killed in the revolt, which began as a peaceful uprising against al-Assad's rule but has descended into a bloody civil war with no early resolution in sight.
The UN puts the death toll at more than 17,000 - up sharply from the 9000 it reported when Annan's ill-fated ceasefire was first introduced in April. AFP