A raid by Syrian security forces near the capital Damascus killed 43 people, some of whom were tortured and executed, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
“Regime forces entered the Jdaidet Artuz district (southwest of Damascus) on Wednesday and arrested around 100 young people who were taken to a school and tortured,” the watchdog said in a statement.
“On Thursday morning after the operation the bodies of 43 people were recovered. Some of them had been summarily executed.”
Earlier Wednesday Assad said that the Syrian army was engaged in a “crucial and heroic battle... on which the destiny of the nation and its people rests” in a speech marking the 67th anniversary of the army.
Damascus does not recognize the popular revolt that erupted in March 2011, describing opposition activists and rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) alike as “armed terrorist groups” financed by foreign powers and sent to sow chaos.