Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—More than 700 people were killed in Syria over the course of Thursday and Friday, in what activists say were the bloodiest 48 hours of fighting in the conflict to date.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Rami Abdul Rahman, told Asharq Al-Awsat that this was the first time casualties had topped 700 in the space of two days since the conflict began in 2011. He contrasted the violence to the gas attack in the Ghouta region close to Damascus last year, which he said killed around 500 people.
The UK-based SOHR tracks casualties on both sides of the Syrian conflict by collating reports from a network of observers on the ground in the country.
The final toll was announced after the SOHR reported that 270 people had been killed in fighting between pro-Syrian government forces and militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), when the latter seized the Shaar gas field east of the city of Homs on Friday.
Abdul Rahman said the death toll of Thursday’s clashes was 396 people, while Friday’s total reached 314, adding that 90 more people were still unaccounted for, although they were also expected to have been killed.
At the end of June, ISIS declared that it had formed an “Islamic State” on territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, and had appointed its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as a new “caliph,” or spiritual and political leader of the world’s Muslims.