The Dresden Historians' Commission published a report this week claiming that only 25,000 people were killed in the Allies' air raid of the German city Dresden during world war II , unlike the previous estimation of up to half a million casualties, news agencies reported.

Over five years of research went into the study, in an attempt to end a long time dispute regarding the amount of casualties in the three-day bombing by British and United States between February 13 and 15, 1945.

"Remembering the Allied bombings of Dresden... still carries importance for the social-political understanding of how history is seen, how society is shaped, and how identities are formed," the commission was quoted as saying.

"In this debate, the number of people killed in the raids on Dresden has long been a crux of the argument that is key to certain views," they added.

Germany's far-right groups have claimed that the deadly bombing constitutes as a war crime, as the war was nearing its end when the attack leveled the German city to the ground. Their claim is based in the estimation of the immense number of casualties, which the commission is now disputing.

The German researchers reviewed city archive materials, including documents from cemeteries, official registries and courts, all of which were then compared to published reports and witness accounts.

The commission also noted that fewer refugees fleeing the city were killed in the bombing than previously estimated, and rejected the reports that many bodies were never recovered in the rubble.

Some protestors were quick to condemn the findings, and over 150 people took to the streets in Dresden, in demonstration against the conclusions that the report has indeed ended the long standing debate over categorizing the attack as a war crime.

The British historian David Irving, who published a book in 1963 called The Destruction of Dresden, claimed that Nazi documents noted over 202,400 people perished in the air assault.

New Agencies quoted The Times historian Frederick Taylor, as saying in response that the Nazis simply added an extra '0' to the total figure.