Saturday, October 29

What is the actual Syrian civilian death toll?

I've been down this road before, but finally the Russian government decided to look at the question. It turns out the figure they came up with is roughly the same as one arrived at by an Israeli intelligence agency. Both figures are far lower than the astronomical numbers bandied about by NATO, Arab Gulf governments, and the United Nations.

'Speculating on Human Lives': Actual Civilian Death Toll in Syrian War

October 29, 2016 - 16:29


In July 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the death toll in the Syrian conflict topped 100,000. In October 2014, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the death toll was 200,000. By October 2015, according to the UN, the war claimed over 240,000 lives.

In September 2016, official UN estimates revealed that 300,000 people were killed in the Syrian conflict. In addition, the UN said that nearly 50 percent of the population was displaced. According to the Dubai-based TV channel Al-Arabiya, in October 2015, the death toll surpassed 250,000. The same data was earlier provided by The New York Times.

After Russia launched its aerial campaign in Syria, the Syrian death toll in Western media continued to grow. Parties involved in the conflict adjust data to their own interests. In addition, the media often reports unconfirmed data from the opposition-established Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

But do all those numbers reflect the situation on the ground? The Institute for Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences conducted its own research, using data from the Syrian Central Bureau of Statistics. The report was presented at a press conference in Moscow on October 28, 2016.

In 2011, the Syrian population was 22.5 million people. According to Syrian statistics, since that time the population has decreased to 17.87 million. 

The research revealed that a total of 105,000 Syrians have been killed in the war, including 45,000 soldiers and militia fighters, 24,000 militants and 36,000 civilians.

The majority of civilians were killed by jihadists and the so-called moderate opposition forces, according to the report.

In addition, nearly 18,000 foreign terrorists recruited from over 80 countries have been killed in the war. Earlier, Yaakov Kedmi, head of the Israeli intelligence agency Nativ, unveiled nearly the same data, including about 40,000 civilians killed. 

Meanwhile, US estimates usually range between several hundreds of thousands to a million, which seems quite unrealistic.

"But this is not only about the numbers. People’s deaths should not be used in political speculations and as an instrument in information wars," journalist Alexander Khrolenko wrote in a piece for RIA Novosti. [Russian language]

According to the author, the United States speculates on human lives while Washington itself has been involved in a series of "regime changes" in the Middle East and North Africa.


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