More than 80,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the UK-based Syria Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday. The figure includes civilians and combatants on both sides of the conflict.
While precise figures for the growing number of casualties in Syria are difficult to come by, the observatory has established itself as the authority on casualties in the conflict, providing daily reports and meticulously documenting the identities of slain Syrians and foreigners.
Other organizations have their own figures. Three months ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay asserted that 70,000 people had died during the conflict, while the observatory’s numbers were significantly lower at the time.
The group counts more than 34,000 civilians among the dead, including 3,048 women and 4,788 children. It also lists almost 15,000 rebel fighters among the dead, and over 16,000 regime soldiers. On its Facebook page, the organizations estimates that “the actual number of combatant casualties (both rebel and regime forces) is double the number of deaths” presented by the organization, since both sides guard their casualty rates closely, an estimate that would push the figure to around 110,000 dead.
“This tally does not include the more than 10,000 detainees and forcibly disappeared persons taken by the regime forces,” the group said. “Nor does it include more than 2,500 captives and forcibly disappeared persons taken by the rebel fighters.”
The group’s founder, Osama Suleiman, a former Syrian soldier who goes by the nom-de-guerre Rami Abdulrahman, fled the country 13 years ago. With the help of a network of activists within Syria, Abdulrahman runs SOHR from his home in Coventry, England, and has become the primary source on casualties in the conflict.
The civil war in Syria broke out in March 2011 between rebel forces fighting to depose Syrian president Bashar Assad and his loyalist forces. Mass protests calling on Assad to step down were met with deadly military force by government troops, and a loose coalition of opposition forces soon organized an armed revolt. The conflict has increasingly drawn in neighboring countries, including Turkey and Israel, and terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Jabhat al-Nusra have taken different sides of the conflict.