"Every protest I observed in Aleppo ended with security forces and shabiha militias opening fire on peaceful demonstrators."
Amnesty International delegate in Aleppo city at the end of May 2012
As anti-government demonstrations gathered pace in recent months in Aleppo, Syrian security forces stepped up a brutal crackdown in an apparent bid to crush the protest movement and stamp out dissenting voices.
Scores of demonstrators and bystanders, most of them young men and boys but including several children and older men, have been shot dead and hundreds injured in the city by security forces and the notorious shabiha, the armed militias working alongside government forces. Some of the victims were bystanders who were not taking part in the demonstrations.