400 Dead: Darayya Massacre Bloodiest Yet in Syria
The numbers keep going up.
400 bodies have been found in Darayya, which has been a site of opposition support near the Syrian capital of Damascus. That is twice as many killed last weekend than had been estimated. The killings are being described as the single worst massacre of the Syrian civil war, which is dragging into its 18th month.
Almost 5,000: This is the number of Syrian refugees that the United Nations refugee agency says is arriving in Turkey daily, up from 500 earlier in the month.
Heavy shelling is being reported in Damascus, Aleppo and northwest Idlib.
Call For a “Safe” Zone
At this point, Western powers have all but given up on a diplomatic solution. French President Francois Hollande proposed on Monday that Syria’s divided opposition seek to form a provisional government; while he said France is prepared to recognize it, the US said such a step is premature.
With what is clearly an escalating humanitarian crisis, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has proposed creating a humanitarian “safe” zone under the UN, in which refugees could be sheltered and humanitarian aid distributed. On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that creating such a buffer zone would be impossible, without imposing a no-fly zone would involve the deployment of forces on the ground.
Assad Claims He’s Routing Out Terrorists
In an interview with pro-government TV station al-Dunya, President Bashar al-Assad said that creating such a buffer zone “firstly is not on the table and secondly it is an unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria.” He also said that the military “needs time to win the battle” and said that his government is “fighting a battle both regionally and internationally” against terrorists and others. He also claimed that he was being interviewed from within the presidential palace in Damascus; Assad’s whereabouts have been kept under wraps since a bomb in Damascus killed four senior security issues including his minister of defense in July.
Atrocities in Darayya
Survivors of the killings in Darayya are giving accounts of cold-blooded killings in which members of the militia, the Shabiha, went house to house after — a pattern seen earlier to subdue the uprising — a city was first surrounded and attacked with shelling and tanks for days.
Said a Darayya residen, Abu Mua’tasim, to the Guardian: ”The Syrian army stayed in some of the houses. One belonged to my friend. People were forced to serve them food and tea. Just before they were leaving they killed the people in the house …I know the family.”
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Photo by FreedomHouse2