March 2013 was the bloodiest month yet in the course of the two year-long civil war ravaging Syria, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The watchdog organization reported Monday more than 6,000 people were killed last month alone – at least a third of them civilians -- as the Syrian government desperately tries to hold on to power using massive artillery and mortar shells to attack rebel forces in residential neighborhoods. The Syrian Air Force has also carried out air strikes using Scuds and other missiles.
According to the report 62,554 victims have fallen in the conflict that began when a teenager inspired by the region wide Arab Spring uprisings scrawled a line of anti-government graffiti on a wall in Dera’a.
The war between troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and fragmented opposition forces has prompted Western nations to begin offering cautious assistance to the rebels.
The United States, Britain and France have initiated military training programs for selected opposition factions – such as the Free Syrian Army – and provided non-lethal equipment and medical aid as well.
Western leaders have said they have no intention of providing aid to radical Islamic factions aligned with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, such as the increasingly popular Al Nusra Front.
However, the so-called “moderate” Western-backed rebel factions sometimes collaborate with their jihadist counterparts on joint military operations against Syrian government targets.
The issue causes concern in the international community, especially given Assad’s weakening grip on power, and the rising concern that rebel forces may gain access to the government’s massive arsenal of biological and chemical weaponry.