DAMASCUS—Syria’s ongoing civil war entered a new and dangerous phase today as tens of thousands of bloodthirsty bears reportedly descended on the strife-torn country, charging from city to city on a murderous rampage.

Terrified witnesses confirmed that scores of semi-conscious residents have been dragged from their homes by their necks, torn limb from limb, and had their innards feasted upon by hordes of vicious bears, which appeared to target individuals regardless of whether they supported President Bashar al-Assad or the insurgent opposition.

“We thought the violence couldn’t possibly get any worse, and then all of a sudden the streets were crawling with ferocious, roaring bears, indiscriminately thrashing everything in sight,” said Syrian rebel commander Salim Idris, wearing an eyepatch from a fresh claw wound he sustained earlier in the day. “I directed my fighters to shoot them on sight, but each bear takes so many bullets to subdue, and when one finally goes down three more fill in to take its place.”

“I don’t know what side the bears are on, but at this point it might not even matter,” he continued. “They’re everywhere and they’re extremely angry.”

Reports indicate that numerous species of bears have taken up positions in Syria’s shelled-out towns and cities, with residents confirming sightings of brown bears, spectacled bears, Asian sun bears, panda bears, and polar bears, many of which are said to appear bright red as their coats have been stained with human blood and viscera. Sources also reported witnessing scores of wild-eyed black bears scrambling up fire escapes and telephone poles to claw their way into upper floors of buildings, as well as ferocious Kodiak bears burrowing into underground shelters where many of the nation’s fearful citizens have taken refuge from the constant fighting and threat of chemical weapons attacks.

Syria’s hospitals, already overwhelmed with casualties from the near-daily sniper and mortar fire, have reportedly found themselves struggling to keep up with a sudden influx of severe bear maulings, bear tramplings, and innumerable bear bites.

Humanitarian agencies have also been rushing to replenish the country’s supplies of emergency food rations, which are said to have been scavenged to the point of exhaustion by the legions of burly ursine foragers who can consume over a hundred pounds of food or flesh per day.

“Before, all we had to worry about were gunfights and bombings, but now it’s gunfights, bombings, and bears,” said Raqqah resident Mustafa al-Khatib, who, like most Syrians, said he avoids venturing out onto streets strewn with rubble, body parts, and bear droppings. “Waiting in line each morning for our bread was already practically a suicide mission with all of Assad’s airstrikes, but now we have to watch out for bears who are just there for the bread. Things were better when it was just a ruthless government onslaught.”

According to local sources, at least 5,000 Syrian men, women, and children have been confirmed killed by bears in recent days, though the number is widely considered an underestimate as many bodies are believed to have been entirely consumed by the hungry omnivores.

“My son was eaten by a bear, my brother was shot by rebels and then eaten by a bear—this is the reality we have to live with every day,” said 32-year-old Amira Najjar, who noted that her entire refugee camp was recently torn to shreds by a family of Alaskan grizzlies. “And they can’t be reasoned with. They have no allegiance to any side. If Bashar al-Assad walked into the street right now he would absolutely be killed and eaten by bears.”

“I honestly don’t even know what’s going on here anymore,” added Najjar, dazedly shaking her head.

According to Syrians on both sides of the conflict, entire swaths of the country are now off-limits for fear that bombed-out buildings and blast craters could be harboring bands of angry scorpions, komodo dragons, mace-wielding cavaliers in full chain mail, or, as children recently swimming off the country’s coast discovered, giant piranhas.

“We’ve tried laying traps, blanketing the streets with land mines—we’ve even imported several dozen cargo planes full of Africanized bees to combat the bears, but the bees just ended up attacking us, too. Nothing has worked and we’re running out of options,” said Ahmed Rahmoud, a spokesman for the embattled regime. “While President Assad is, at present, willing to sit down and negotiate, these creatures are not only leaderless, they seem completely unwilling to compromise.”

At press time, thousands of lions, hawks, anacondas, fire ants, flesh-eating bacteria, shrieking black-caped horsemen, and leather-clad motorcycle gangs were seen amassing just a few miles away from the Syrian border.