As disturbing videos surfaced, bombs went off, and another journalist disappeared, the conflict in Syria reached a macabre milestone this week, with the United Nations reporting that more than 60,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 2011. A least another 470,000 refugees have fled the country and are living in squalid camps across the border, though that number could be vastly understating the true total, due to poor record keeping and the failure to mark those who have simply disappeared without a trace.
And the brutality of the conflict shows no signs of abating. More than 100 were killed on the first day of 2013 and the envoy between the U.N. and the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, recently predicted that another 100,000 will die this year if the war is not stopped.
On Wednesday, Syrian military jets bombed a gas station outside of Damascus, setting off raging fires and killing more than 20, and with many more dying in follow up attacks. The AP has confirmed the authenticity of this video of the aftermath of that explosion (from which the image above was taken), but be warned that images are very disturbing.
Another equally upsetting video released this week appears to show pro-regime fighters torturing two prisoners to death, stabbing them multiple times and "stoning them with concrete blocks." The number of summary executions, civilian targets, and similar atrocities appears to be growing on both sides of the conflict. It was also revealed today that another American journalist has gone missing in Syria, after being kidnapped by unknown fighters more than a month ago.
Meanwhile, the rebels continue to press their growing advantage in the northern regions of the country assaulting a large airbase in the latest attempt to handicap Bashar al-Assad's air force. The fighting has continued throughout the day, with both sides taking an unknown number of casualties.