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Syrian death toll tops 191,000

August 22, 2014

The United Nations has released new figures on the death toll inflicted by the Syrian civil war. While the report includes previously unavailable information, the UN warns that the actual death toll is probably higher.

Krieg in Syrien 17.10.2013
Image: Ahmad Aboud/AFP/Getty Images

According to the latest estimate released by the United Nations on Friday, over 191,000 people perished in fighting in Syria between the war's outbreak in March 2011 and April 2014. The report drew from information gathered by several organizations, including the Syrian government and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"With additional killings reported from earlier periods, in addition to the new killings that have taken place, the total is more than double the number documented a year ago," UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navy Pillay said in a statement on Friday.

According to the UN report, men accounted for 85 percent of the dead, while women accounted for roughly 9 percent. Data indicated that the fighting had also claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 children. Most of the deaths occurred in the Damascus area, followed by Aleppo, Homs, Idlib, Daraa and Hama.

"As the report explains, tragically it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict," the UN's Pillay said on Friday.

The exact figure given by the UN on Friday was 191,369. However, the authors of the report only counted victims who had been "fully identified by the name of the victim, as well as the date and location of the death," significantly narrowing a combined list of 318,910 reported cases.

In January, the UN Human Rights Office stopped counting the number of casualties, citing difficulties in obtaining information.

'Scandalous' lack of media attention

The High Commissioner criticized the drop in both media and international attention to the plight of Syrians.

"It is scandalous that the predicament of [Syrians] is no longer attracting much attention, despite the enormity of their suffering," Pillay said, pointing to the grave threat the war posed to the region.

Since March 2011, roughly 6.45 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. Nearly 3 million refugees from the besieged country have fled into neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Israel and Egypt.

Meanwhile, conflicts in other countries, such as Ukraine, the Gaza Strip and neighboring Iraq have dominated headlines.

The complexity of the infighting among Syrian opposition groups has, however, reemerged in reporting in recent weeks, with the rise of the self-proclaimed "Islamic State." The jihadist group first established a foothold in Syria before turning its attention to Iraq.

In June, IS launched an offensive in Iraq, taking a number of cities and prompting US airstrikes. Its brutality and the recent beheading of US reporter James Foley by an IS fighter with a British accent have raised fears about Europeans joining such groups. The Pentagon warned on Thursday that IS posed an imminent threat.

kms/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)

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