Unconfirmed reports coming out of Syria are saying over 200 people, most of them civilians, were killed in the town of Daraya on Saturday, and most of them were killed by sniper fire or "summarily executed."
The Local Co-ordination Committees, an opposition network, reports over 200 bodies were found in basements scattered across Daraya. The LCC said over 440 people were killed by Assad forces on Saturday, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll closer to 370 people. Either way, those numbers make Saturday possibly the bloodiest day of the Syrian conflict. There's graphic video showing dozens of bodies in the basement of Daraya churches, and there's footage of tanks firing at the town.
The Guardian describes the massacre as part of a larger plan to retake areas south of Damascus:
The storming of Daraya on Saturday followed three days of heavy bombardment by government tanks and artillery, which the opposition said killed another 70 people. The offensive appeared to be part of a larger struggle for control of the southern fringe of the capital. Local residents said that government tanks on the Damascus ring road shelled the neighbourhoods of al-Lawwan and Nahr Aisheh late into Saturday night and that there was also heavy fighting in the Ghouta suburbs to the east of the city.
Syrian state TV reported Assad forces "cleansed Daraya from remnants of armed terrorist groups who committed crimes against the sons of the town."
Abu Kinan, an activist in Daraya working under a pseudonym, told Reuters that Assad's forces "committed a massacre," in the town. "In the last hour, 122 bodies were discovered and it appears that two dozen died from sniper fire and the rest were summarily executed by gunshots from close range," he said. Summarily executing people is a war crime. The U.N. has already said Assad's forces are guilty of committing war crimes.
The push for military intervention in Syria has advanced over the last few weeks. President Obama (sort of) outlined what it would take for the U.S. to get involved, while French officials proposed setting up a partial no-fly zone over the country. The U.N. recently pulled their team of monitors out of the country after it was clear their presence wasn't going to stop either side from fighting.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.