Real Death Toll in Syria Could Be More Than 200,000, Human Rights Group Says

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it documented deaths of more than 106,000 people, but warns that actual death toll could be twice as high.

The real death toll in the Syrian war could be more than 200,000 people, a pro-opposition watchdog group said Saturday, as it provided a latest count that matched that of the UN.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of more than 106,000 people, but warned that the real toll could be twice as high.
The United Nations said in July that more than 100,000 have been killed in Syria since March 2011.

"We estimate that the real figure... is double the figure documented by the Observatory due to extreme secrecy that both sides in the conflict maintain on their casualties," said the Britain-based organization.

The Observatory said it had documented the deaths of 106,423 people, including 53,851 civilians, since March 2011 when the uprising against President Bashar Assad began. What started as largely peaceful protests quickly descended into civil war.

The dead also included 26,853 government soldiers and 171 militants from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group and a key ally of Assad.

Lebanon, meanwhile, has vowed to protect Turks living in the country, a day after two Turkish pilots were seized in Beirut reportedly in connection with the conflict in Syria.

"We will protect Turkish nationals in Lebanon. We will protect everyone," Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said after talks with the Turkish ambassador, Inan Ozyildiz.

A shadowy Lebanese Shiite group, which calls itself Visitors of Imam al-Ridha, has claimed responsibility for the abductions, saying it will release the pilots in exchange for nine Lebanese pilgrims captured in Syria last year.

Turkey supports the Sunni Muslim rebels fighting to topple Assad, while Lebanon's Shiites largely back Assad.