Syria war toll passes quarter million

Nearly a quarter of a million people have died in Syria's war since March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The organiztion said Aug. 7 that the number of documented deaths had risen to 240,381 from 230,618 in June. Of these, 71,781 have been civilians and 11,964 children, the group found. 50,570 were soldiers or fighters allied with the regime. The toll for rebel fighters was put at 43,384 and foreign fighters (apparently counted separately) at 34,375. The 30,000 who have gone missing in Syria, including the 20,000 said to be held in regime prisons, were not counted in the toll. (The Telegraph, Aug. 8; Al Jazeera, Aug. 7)

SOHR reported last November that US-led air-strikes in Syria had killed over 900 people since they began in September, including 52 civilians. A new video on AJ+ now says (citing the AirWars website) that US-led air-strikes in both Syria and Iraq have killed 15,000 ISIS fighters and 1,247 civilians. The video closes by asking rhetorically: "Is there no end in sight?" Yet it has nothing to say about the Assad regime's air-strikes. With barrel-bombs still falling on Aleppo and Idlib, this is rather the proverbial elephant in the room. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch just had an op-ed in the New York Times calling the regime's barrel-bombs "the greatest threat to Syrian civilians"—ahead of ISIS. He finds:

Yet the international community has made little effort to stop Mr. Assad's barrel bombing of civilians. The two governments with the greatest potential to influence Mr. Assad—his principal backers, Russia and Iran—have refused to get him to stop. Western governments have been reluctant to exert strong public pressure on them because of other priorities—Ukraine, in the case of Russia, and the nuclear deal, in the case of Iran. The European Union is putting far more effort into stopping Syrian asylum seekers from reaching the Continent than addressing the root causes of their flight. The United States and Turkey recently announced a plan to make a 60-mile strip in northern Syria an "ISIS-free zone," but the goal is to fight ISIS militants, not protect civilians.

In fact, it is much worse than that. The US-Turkey "buffer zone" in northern Syria is not aimed at fighting ISIS, but at fighting the revolutionary Kurds that are fighting ISIS...

Then there are the displaced. Syrians, for the first time, have become the largest refugee population under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), overtaking Afghans, who had held that position for more than three decades. And the 3 million Syrian refugees by the UNHCR count is only a fourth of the 12 million Syrians displaced—inside and outside their country.

The double standard about who gets counted among civilian casualties is another example of the objectification of victims, which is the logic of criminal attacks on civilians. 

Syria: regime forces have killed more civilians than ISIS

Syrian government forces are responsible for more civilian deaths than ISIS, according to newly released data. The data, released by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, show that Bashar al-Assad's regime was responsible for more than 10,300 Syrian civilian deaths recorded in 2015. Of those deaths, nearly a third were women and children. The human rights organisation blames the Syrian regime's indiscriminate use of barrel bombs on civilian areas for the heavy death-toll. (The Independent, Oct. 7)