Activists say Syria death toll has passed 100,000
Opposition monitoring group based in Britain relies on a network of activists in Syria for information
Abu al-Taib, the leader of Ahbab Al-Mustafa Battalion, demonstrates to female members as he holds a gun during a military training in a mosque in the Seif El Dawla neighbourhood in Aleppo on Monday. Photograph: Muzaffar Salman/Reuters
A female member of the Ahbab Al-Mustafa Battalion holds a gun as she undergoes military training in Aleppo’s Salaheddine district. Photograph: Muzaffar Salman/Reuters
Syrian refugees wait to collect water at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria yesterday. Photograph: Muhammad Hamed/Reuters
An opposition monitoring group that has tracked Syria’s widening civil war said today that more than 100,000 people had died in the 27-month conflict.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain and relies on a network of activists in Syria for its information, put the total number of dead at 100,191 since the Syrian revolt began in March 2011 - several thousand more than the latest UN estimate of at least 93,000 by the end of April.
It claimed pro-government forces took far more casualties than rebels seeking the overthrow of president Bashar Assad, while civilians accounted for more than one-third of the overall fatalities, the biggest single category.
Rami Abdul Rahman, the founder of the Syrian Observatory, said in a telephone interview that the statistics were compiled by adding together the daily tallies his organisation has kept since the beginning of the uprising. Those daily figures, in turn, he said, were based on information from a variety of sources like the organisation’s activists on the ground in Syria, lawyers and health workers in civilian and military hospitals, rather than from combatants whose estimates could be unreliable.
Throughout the Syrian conflict, both sides have sought advantage in propaganda and media campaigns that have figured prominently alongside physical combat.
“In war, both sides lie,” Abdul Rahman said, citing examples of exaggerated death tolls that were not corroborated by evidence from activists, and other cases when people who died of natural causes were listed as combat deaths.
His group also said both sides were likely to have under-reported their own casualties. The United Nations’ and opposition group’s estimates offered the caveat that the true scale of the killing may be much greater.
“The death toll does not include more than 10,000 detainees and missing persons inside of regime prisons, nor does it include more than 2,500 regular soldiers and pro-regime militants held captive by rebel fighters,” the Syrian Observatory said in a statement on its website.
“We also estimate that the real number of casualties from regular forces and rebel fighters is twice the number documented, because both sides are discreet about the human losses resulting from clashes,” the statement added. In its breakdown, the group said the dead included 36,661 civilians, including 8,000 women and children, 13,539 rebel fighters and 2,015 defectors from government forces. It was not immediately clear from the statement how the civilians died.
Among pro-government forces, the group said 25,407 regular soldiers had been killed along with 17,311 members of militias and pro-government units including some listed as informers for the government. The war has drawn in an unknown number of foreign militants and outside fighters, including Lebanese Hizbullah forces.