More than 60,000 people have died in the Syrian uprising and civil war, the UN said yesterday, dramatically raising the death toll in a struggle that shows no sign of ending.
Dozens were killed in a Damascus suburb when a government air strike turned a petrol station into an inferno, incinerating drivers who had rushed there for a rare chance to fill their tanks, activists told Reuters.
"I counted at least 30 bodies. They were either burnt or dismembered," said Abu Saeed, an activist who arrived at the area an hour after the raid occurred at 1100 GMT in Muleiha, a suburb on the eastern edge of the capital.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said in Geneva that researchers cross-referencing seven sources over five months of analysis had listed 59,648 people killed in Syria between March 15, 2011 and Nov. 30, 2012.
"The number of casualties is much higher than we expected and is truly shocking," she said.
"Given that there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013."
The activists said rockets were fired from the base at the petrol station and a nearby residential area after the air raid. Video footage taken by activists showed the body of a man in a helmet still perched on a motorcycle amid flames engulfing the scene.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a separate air strike killed 12 members of a family, most of them children, in Moadamiyeh, a southwestern area near the center of Damascus.
In the north, fighters attacked the Afis military airport near Taftanaz air base, which is near the main north-south highway linking Damascus to Aleppo, the Observatory said.