Civilian Casualties Continue to Rise in Syria

Children crying in his injured father’s arms Children crying in his injured father’s arms Mohammed Badra/EPA

07 February 2018
774 civilians were killed at war in Syria in January 2018.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) issued a report on the number of civilian casualties in the Syrian war in January 2018. SNHR focuses on documenting victims who were killed during the conflict, analysing the reasons for their death and creating a database with all of their information. The statistics distinguish the number of victims from each party and the way they died. However, the numbers of dead citizens used to establish these statistics were based only on the deaths SNHR could confirm with full names, places and times, and the real number of dead citizens is higher. Some of the actors, such as ISIS and the Syrian regime, are known not to record their victims.  

When the battle started in 2011, gunfire attacks by ground soldiers of the Syrian regime were the main cause of the deaths. But the shape of the battles has progressively changed and the air strikes extensively used have become the deadliest cause.

There are seven distinguished influential parties fighting in Syria, each responsible for many civilian casualties.

The Syrian regime force (army, local militias and Shiite foreign militias) is responsible of 52.71% of deaths in January, with 408 civilians killed, including 76 children and 54 women. The second on the list are the Russian forces, responsible of 18.35% of deaths with 142 civilians killed, including 40 children and 33 women. The third are referred to as “other parties” which includes victims killed in bombings where the SNHR could not identify the perpetrators, with 15.37% of the deaths representing 119 civilians killed, including 35 children and 32 women. The extremist Islamic groups are responsible for only 8.53% of the deaths, having killed 66 civilians, including 18 children and nine women. The international coalition forces killed 24 civilians, of which six were children and eight women representing 3.1% of the deaths. The Kurdish Self-Management forces (Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces, a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) killed 13 civilians (1.68%), and the armed opposition killed three civilians (0.26%). The highest number of civilian casualties are due to the use of heavy weapons such as bombs and missiles launched from warplanes. The rest died in gunfights or because of landmines and torture.

SNHR stresses the point that rules of international law and fundamental human rights have been breached by the Syrian-Russian alliance, and that according to a significant amount of eyewitness testimonies, a certain amount of the attacks were directly targeting civilian facilities, which constitutes a crime against humanity. On the other part, the international coalition, Kurdish self-management forces and extremist Islamic groups would have carried out extrajudicial killings constituting war crimes.

As a result, SNHR urges the international community to condemn these actions and work on fulfilling justice and peace building in Syria to ensure human rights are respected.


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