5K Die in August, Syria's Deadliest Month Yet
Gov't use of air power greatly stepped up violence, say rebels
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2012 5:23 AM CDT
This image made from video provided by Shaam News Network (SNN) and accessed via AP video purports to show smoke and flames from shelling in the Izaa neighborhood if Aleppo, Syria, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)

(Newser) – With the Syrian government now using air power against rebels, the civil war keeps getting bloodier: Anti-regime activists say about 5,000 people were killed in August alone, reports the AP. Another report by UNICEF put the death toll at 1,600 just for last week, the worst single week since the fighting began 17 months ago. "The past month witnessed large massacres and the regime was conducting wide operations to try to crush the uprising," says one Egypt-based activist.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates 26,000 people have been killed since the start of the uprisings, including 18,500 civilians. Other estimates differ, but on average 1,300 to 1,500 Syrians have died in every month of the conflict—making August's number particularly dire and more than three times the average. "The reason behind the high death toll is military operations, shelling, clashes, and air raids," says an Observatory official.