Syria's 'Bloody Saturday' Death Toll Hits 440
Nearly 450 people died Saturday on the bloodiest day of the savage civil war fought by Syrian Army troops and opposition forces.
Approximately 440 victims, mostly civilians, were killed in the clashes centered in the capital city and in Aleppo, Syria's second largest city.
Fierce fighting between government troops and the Free Syrian Army left more than a hundred dead in the northwestern commercial hub, located 310 kilometers (193 miles) from Damascus.
Of those, nearly 300 were killed, including an undetermined number who were apparently shot to death "execution style" near the southwestern Damascus suburb of Daraya and surrounds, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
Since the beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, ignited by the regionwide Arab Spring, the United Nations High Council for Refugees (UNHCR) has estimated that more than 202,000 Syrians have fled the country.
Varying estimates by activist and human rights organizations, among them the SOHR and the United Nations, place the death toll between 18,000 and 25,000. A report last week estimated the number of displaced citizens driven from their homes, at 1.5 million.
It is extremely difficult to be accurate in assessing the numbers due to the fact that the Syrian government blocks access to the country by independent journalists and humanitarian aid organizations.
More than a dozen foreign and local journalists have been killed in action while attempting to cover the civil war.