Over 500,000 Dead in Seven Years of Syrian War, Monitor Says

The Assad regime and its allies are responsible for some 85 percent of civilians killed in the war, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says

Syrian men check the damage following Syrian government shelling on the town of Douma in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 10, 2018.
HAMZA AL-AJWEH/AFP

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said on Monday about 511,000 people had been killed in the Syrian war since it began seven years ago. 

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The Observatory, which tracks death tolls using a network of contacts inside Syria, said it had identified more than 350,000 of those killed, and the remainder were cases where it knew deaths had occurred but did not know the victims' names. 

The conflict began after mass protests on March 15 2011, dragging in regional and global powers and forcing millions of people - more than half the pre-war population - to flee their homes.

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About 85 percent of the dead were civilians killed by the forces of the Syrian government and its allies, the Observatory said. The Syrian military, joined by its ally Russia since 2015, has used air power extensively. 

The Russian military said late on Sunday that it had managed to evacuate 52 civilians, including 26 children, from Syria’s rebel-held eastern Ghouta after talks with local authorities.

The civilians, inhabitants of the town of Misraba, were taken to a temporary refugee camp where they were receiving medical aid, the Russian military said in a statement.

Jaish al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in Syria's eastern Ghouta, said on Monday it had reached an agreement with the government's ally Russia to evacuate wounded people from the besieged enclave near Damascus. 

The rebel group said it communicated with Russia through the United Nations to reach the agreement, as the government presses a major offensive against the enclave with Russian military help.

As the war approaches its eighth year, intense fighting continues in several areas, including eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus and Afrin near the Turkish border

On February 24, The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding a 30-day truce in Syria to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations with the support of Syrian ally Russia.

The vote at the United Nations came as warplanes pounded eastern Ghouta, the last rebel enclave near Syria's capital, for a seventh straight day while residents holed up in basements.

On February 25, Syrian rebels said they clashed with pro-government forces in the early morning, despite the UN resolution. Rescuers and residents said warplanes struck some towns in the eastern Ghouta enclave.

On February 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the implementation of a daily cease-fire in Syria's eastern Ghouta and the creation of a "humanitarian corridor" via which civilians can leave, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.