(DAMASCUS, Syria) — Even for a civil war that seems to get bloodier by the hour, Saturday’s death toll in Syria was shocking by all standards.
Opposition activists claimed that more than 330 people died — most of them civilians — in what amounted to the highest single day fatality count since military forces began their onslaught against anti-government rebels in March 2011. Other estimates put the death toll at closer to 400.
Over the past 18 months, between 21,000 and 23,000 people have been killed.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria reported that 200 people were found massacred in Daraya on Saturday, outside of Damascus, as the state-run SANA news agency boasted that the village had been “purified of terrorist remnants.”
With over 3,700 deaths through Saturday, August is now also the deadliest month of the conflict that observers allege has turned increasingly more brutal as President Bashar al-Assad tries desperately to hold onto his family’s 40-year reign of the country.
Al-Assad says that “foreign terrorists” are to blame for spurring civilians against him in Syria.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Chris Williams and Jason Hanna, CNN
Mohammed Tawfeeq, Joe Sterling and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN