Casualties of the Syrian Civil War

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Doctors and medical staff treating injured rebel fighters and civilians in Aleppo

Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 331,765 and 475,000.[1] On 23 April 2016, the United Nations and Arab League Envoy to Syria put out an estimate of 400,000 that had died in the war.[2]

UNICEF reported that over 500 children had been killed by early February 2012.[3][4] Another 400 children were reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons.[5][6] Both claims were contested by the Syrian government.[7] The United Nations stated that by the end of April 2014, 8,803 children had been killed,[8] while the Oxford Research Group said that a total of 11,420 children died in the conflict by late November 2013.[9] By mid-July 2017, the opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the number of children killed in the conflict had risen to 18,243, while at the same time 11,427 women were also killed.[1]

Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners died under torture by the start of 2012.[10] By February 2017, Amnesty International estimated up to 13,000 people had been executed in government prisons.[11]

Overall deaths[edit]

Total deaths over the course of the conflict in Syria (18 March 2011 – 18 October 2013)
Weekly deaths over the course of the conflict in Syria (18 March 2011 – 18 October 2013)

All of the following totals include civilians, rebels and government forces:

Source Casualties Time period
Syrian Centre for Policy Research 470,000 killed[12] 15 March 2011 – 11 February 2016
UN and Arab League Envoy to Syria 400,000 killed[2] 15 March 2011 – 23 April 2016
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 331,765–475,000 killed[1] 15 March 2011 – 15 July 2017
Violations Documentation Centre 153,646 killed[13] 15 March 2011 – 15 September 2017

At the start of the war, Al Jazeera journalist Nir Rosen stated that many of the deaths reported daily by activists were in fact armed insurgents falsely presented as civilian deaths, but confirmed that real civilian deaths do occur on a regular basis.[14] A number of Middle East political analysts, including those from the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper, also urged caution.[15][16][17]

This was later confirmed when in late May 2012, Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is one of the opposition-affiliated groups counting the number of those killed in the uprising, stated that civilians who had taken up arms during the conflict were being counted under the category of "civilians".[18][19][20]

In May 2013, SOHR stated that at least 41,000 of those killed during the conflict were Alawites.[21] By April 2015, reportedly a third of the country's 250,000 Alawites that were of fighting age had been killed.[22] In April 2017, a pro-opposition source claimed 150,000 young Alawites had died.[23]

Death tolls by time periods[edit]

The following figures were all compiled by the SOHR which is considered an authoritative source on the matter.[24] The figures are only for documented deaths, while the SOHR estimates another 143,235 undocumented deaths had occurred.[1]

Monthly documented fatalities in the Syrian civil war according to SOHR:
  Civilians
  Pro-government forces
Time Period Pro-government forces Anti-government forces Civilians Grand Total (inc. unidentified)
2011
2012
2013
52,290 killed[25]
(2013: 30,239)[26]
29,083 killed[25]
(2013: 18,812)[26]
46,266 killed[27]
(2013: 22,436)[28]
2011: 7,841 killed[29]
2012: 49,294 killed[29]
2013: 73,447 killed[29]
2014 25,160 killed 32,726 killed 17,790 killed 76,021 killed[30]
2015 17,686 killed 24,010 killed 13,249 killed 55,219 killed[31]
2016 14,192 killed 21,467 killed 13,617 killed 49,742 killed[32]
January 2017 392 killed 955 killed 645 killed 2,001 killed[33]
February 2017 584 killed 1,491 killed 769 killed 2,854 killed[34]
March 2017 725 killed 1,188 killed 901 killed 2,826 killed[35]
April 2017 551 killed 1,282 killed 938 killed 2,786 killed[36]
May 2017 331 killed 968 killed 976 killed 2,311 killed[37]
June 2017 550 killed 970 killed 740 killed 2,282 killed[38]
July 2017 638 killed 1,165 killed 656 killed 2,477 killed[39]
August 2017 591 killed 1,311 killed 790 killed 2,707 killed[40]
Total 113,690 killed 116,616 killed 97,337 killed 331,808 killed

Death tolls by provinces[edit]

According to the Syrian opposition website Syrian Martyrs, the figure was 151,888 up to 30 April 2016, which was the time of its last update.[41] The number includes 35,859 rebels but does not include members of the government security forces or pro-government foreign combatants who have died.[42] The Syrian Martyrs number of civilian deaths is significantly higher than the ones presented by other organisations, including the UN, one reason being they record deaths even when no name is given for the reportedly killed individual.[43]

Governorate Number of deaths
Latakia 1,511
Rif Dimashq 34,813
Homs 17,993
Hama 9,867
Al-Hasakah 1,693
Daraa 14,227
Aleppo 31,257
Deir ez-Zor 9,696
Damascus 9,747
Tartus 555
Quneitra 1,069
Idlib 16,699
As-Suwayda 106
Raqqa 2,655
Total 151,888[41]

Combatant deaths[edit]

Government forces[edit]

Pro-government combatants Casualties
TOTAL 116,774–165,994 killed[1][44][45]
Syrian military and police 61,808–96,808 killed[1][44]
Syrian militias 46,447–60,447 killed[1][44]
Lebanese Hezbollah 1,480–1,700 killed[1][45]
Other non-Syrian militiamen 7,039 killed[1]

The non-Syrian militiamen fatalities figure includes: over 1,200 Iranian-lead fighters[46] (506 Iranians, 738 Afghans, 144 Pakistanis),[47][48][49] at least 1,278 Iraqi Shia militiamen,[50] one Lebanese member of the SCNP,[51] one member of the Lebanese Amal Movement[52] and a Saudi Shiite fighter.[53] Other sources put the overall number of killed Iranian-lead forces, which also includes the Afghan and Pakistani militias,[54] at between 2,500 and 3,500 by the end of August 2017.[55][56] Also, more than 740 Palestinian militiamen have been killed and these include: 278 Liwa Al-Quds fighters,[57][58][59] 202 members of the PLA,[60] 93 PFLP–GC members,[61] 64 Quwat al-Jalil fighters,[58][62] 31 who belonged to Fatah al-Intifada[61][58] and 73 other militiamen.[58][61][62]

Except one death (August 2011),[63] all of the Hezbollah fatalities have occurred since September 2012.[64]

In early December 2013, rebels claimed that a pro-government Russian fighter was killed in fighting in Aleppo.[65] Between October 2015 and June 2017, it was reported that 43 Russian security contractors had been killed.[66] In late June 2017, a Serbian volunteer was killed while fighting with Russian forces.[67]

In addition, 1,000 civilian government officials have also been killed.[68]

Anti-government forces[edit]

Due to the opposition monitors' policy early in the conflict of counting rebel fighters that were not defectors as civilians,[18][19][20][69] a comprehensive number of rebels killed in the conflict, thus far, has not been ascertained. In late November 2012, the opposition activist group SOHR estimated that at least 10,000 rebels had been killed, but noted the possibility of the figure being higher because the rebels, like the government, were lying about how many of their forces had died to make it look like they were winning.[70] In March 2013, SOHR stated that the actual number of killed rebels and government forces could be double the number they were already able to document.[71]

Anti-government combatants Casualties
TOTAL 115,307–151,307 killed[1][44]
ISIL 22,821 killed[72]
Kurdish YPG/YPJ 3,952 killed[73][74][75]

It should be noted that 58,446 foreign rebel and ISIL fighters,[1] at least 240 anti-government suicide bombers[76][77][78][79] and 246 rebel child soldiers[80][81] have been killed in the conflict. Additionally, 41 foreign pro-Kurdish fighters died.[82]

Foreigners killed[edit]

Foreign civilians killed[edit]

Country Number of deaths
Palestinians 3,063[58][83]
Turkey 95[84][85]
Iraq 47[86][87][88][89]
Lebanon 42[86][90][91][92][93][94][95][96]
Jordan 26[86][97]
Saudi Arabia 23[86]
Somalia 15[97]
Egypt 12[86]
Libya 9[86]
Tunisia 9[86]
France 4[97]
Sudan 4[86]
United Kingdom 4[98][99][100]
Afghanistan 3[101]
Kuwait 3[86]
United States 3[86][102]
Australia 2[86]
Japan 2[86]
Azerbaijan 1[86]
Belgium 1[86]
Greece 1[86]
Italy 1[103]
Romania 1[86]
Russia 1[86]
Israel 1[86]
Yemen 1[86]
Netherlands 1[104]
Unknown 10[86]

Foreign anti-government fighters killed[edit]

58,487 foreign anti-government fighters have been killed by mid-July 2017, according to the SOHR.[1][82]

9,936 foreign opposition fighters were killed by late December 2013, according to the Jihadist Salafist Movement in Jordan, with the nationalities being as follows: 1,902 Tunisians, 1,807 Libyans, 1,432 Iraqis, 828 Lebanese, 821 Egyptians, 800 Palestinians, 714 Saudis, 571 Yemenis, 412 Moroccans, 274 Algerians, 202 Jordanians, 91 Omanis, 71 Kuwaitis, 42 Somalis, 30 Albanians and Caucasians, 21 Bahrainis, 9 Emiratis, 8 Qataris, 3 Sudanese and 1 Mauritanian.[105] The London-based European Centre for Syria Research put the number of Saudis killed even higher at 729 a month earlier in November 2013.[106] The jihadist movement updated the number of Jordanians killed by late May 2014 to 342,[107] although they put the figure in late October at over 250.[108] According to another estimate, the Jordanian toll was at least 500 by July 2016.[109]

According to Abu Omar al-Shishani, the Chechen ISIL commander, 500 militants from the Caucasus had been killed by mid-January 2014 since the start of the war.[110] Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, stated in late November 2015, that 200 Chechens had died.[111]

According to a report by a Syrian military research center, as of September 2014: 3,872 Saudi, 3,691 Chechen and 2,904 Lebanese fighters had been killed. Another 2,689 Saudi fighters were missing.[112]

In mid-May 2015, at least 70 Lebanese fighters were reported killed in the previous several months.[113] In late December 2015, Tunis stated 800 Tunisian ISIL fighters had been killed since the start of the war.[114]

The nationalities of some others are as follows: 400 Turks,[115] 300 Tajiks,[116] 200 Frenchmen,[117] 160–2,000 Russians,[118][119] 150 Azerbaijanis,[120] 145 Germans,[121][122][123][124] 143 Britons,[125][126] 121 Albanians,[127] 97 Belgians,[128] 71 Australians,[129] 65 Bosniaks,[130] 45 Kyrgyz,[131] 40 Swedes,[132] 39 Dutch,[133] 30 Malaysians,[134] 27 Danes,[135] 22 Americans,[136][137][138][139][140][141][142][143] 21 Austrians,[144][145] 15 Finns,[146] 15 Norwegians,[147] 15 Canadians,[148][149] 13 Afghans,[86][150] 7 Indians,[151][152] 4 Irishmen,[153] 4 Israeli-Arabs,[154] 4 Maldivians,[155] 3 Chinese,[156][157] 3 Pakistanis,[158] 2–3 Filipinos,[159] 2 Iranians,[122][158] 2 Italians,[97][160] 2 Eritreans,[158] 2 Indonesians,[155][158] 2 Mauritanians,[161] 2 South Africans,[162] 2 Spaniards,[163] 2 Uzbeks,[86][164] 1 Armenian,[158] 1 Bulgarian,[164] 1 Chadian,[150] 1 Japanese,[165] 1 Kazakh,[166] 1 Romanian[163] and 1 Slovenian.[167]

Foreign soldiers killed[edit]

212 foreign soldiers have been killed during the conflict, mostly in the border areas with Syria.

Iraq 16 servicemen killed
On 2 March 2013, one Iraqi soldier was killed during clashes between Syrian rebels and government forces at a Syrian-Iraqi border crossing.[168] On 4 March 2013, 13 Iraqi soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen near the border with Syria while they were transporting 65 Syrian soldiers and government officials back to their country after they had retreated to Iraq a few days earlier. 48 of the Syrians were also killed in the attack.[169][170] On 9 June 2013, Syrian rebels attacked a southern Iraqi border post, killing one Iraqi guard and wounding two.[171] On 14 July 2013, another attack by fighters from the Syrian side of the border left one Iraqi policeman dead and five others wounded.[172]

Jordan 8 servicemen killed
A Jordanian soldier was killed in clashes with armed militants who were attempting to cross the border from Jordan into Syria on 22 October 2012.[173] On 3 January 2015, ISIL burned a Jordanian military pilot alive in a metal cage. The pilot was captured after his airplane crashed near Raqqa while conducting air-strikes.[174] Six Jordanian soldiers were killed by a car-bomb blast near the Syrian refugee camp of al-Rukban on 21 June 2016.[175]

Lebanon 60 servicemen killed
On 1 February 2013, two Lebanese soldiers were killed, along with 1-2 militants, and six were wounded in clashes near the Syrian border which started after an attempt by the military to arrest an anti-Assad rebel commander, who was also killed.[176][177][178] On 28 May 2013, three Lebanese soldiers were killed in an attack on their checkpoint near the border town of Arsal by unknown militants who then fled over the border into Syria.[179] On 29 March 2014, three soldiers were killed and four wounded in a suicide bomb attack on their checkpoint near Arsal.[180] 20 soldiers were killed during the Battle of Arsal against Syrian and other foreign jihadists and a further 13 were captured and subsequently executed. On 19 September, two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb near Arsal.[181] On 2 December, six soldiers were killed and one wounded in an ambush by unknown gunmen in the Tal Hamra area of Ras Baalbek, near the border with Syria.[182] On 23 January 2015, eight soldiers were killed and 22 wounded near Ras Baalbek after their outpost near the border was attacked by ISIL. The fighting also left more than 40 militants dead.[183] Three soldiers were also killed during an offensive against ISIL in the border area in August 2017.[184]

Russia 36 servicemen killed

Following the start of Russia's intervention in Syria against rebel and ISIL forces at the end of September 2015, 34 soldiers had died by 10 July 2017.[185] Among them, was a Russian military co-pilot who was killed when his Su-24 military plane was shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border by the Turkish military on 24 November 2015. His pilot was later recovered alive and well by Russian and Syrian special forces. Additionally, a Russian marine was killed when his military rescue helicopter was shot down by rebels while searching for the downed planes pilots.[186]

Turkey 88 servicemen killed
Two members of the Turkish Air Force were killed when their F-4 Phantom II military jet was shot down near the Turkish-Syrian border by the Syrian Army on 22 June 2012.[187] On 2 May 2013, one Turkish border guard policeman was killed in a clash with smugglers or rebel fighters on the border between Turkey and Syria. According to the opposition, two rebels were killed as well.[188] Throughout 2014, seven soldiers and a policeman were killed along the border with Syria in shootouts with foreign jihadists, Kurdish fighters and other unknown gunmen.[189][190][191] On 22 February 2015, a soldier was killed in an accident during a military incursion into Syria to evacuate Turkish troops at the Tomb of Suleyman Shah.[192] Later, in two incidents in July and September, two soldiers were killed and five wounded by cross-border fire from ISIL territory in Syria.[193][194] On 15 February 2016, a soldier died at the border during clashes against human smugglers that tried to cross the border illegally.[195] Two Turkish soldiers died in a suicide bombing at a Syrian border crossing in mid-August.[196] Following the start of Turkey's ground incursion into Syria against ISIL and Kurdish forces in late August 2016, 71 soldiers had died by 24 February 2017.[197]

United States 4 servicemen killed
A U.S. Marine was killed on 1 October 2014, when the V-22 Osprey aircraft he was riding in nearly crashed into the sea while supporting air strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, and he fell into the water.[198] Also, a U.S. special forces member died due to a bomb explosion while supporting Kurdish-led forces during the Wrath of Euphrates offensive against ISIL-held Raqqa.[199] Two other service members died due to non-combat causes in northern Syria in 2017.[200]

Foreign air-strike casualties[edit]

It should be noted, the SOHR considers the following figures on ISIL, al-Nusra and other rebel fatalities to be higher due to the groups efforts to hide their losses.

American-led intervention[edit]

According to SOHR, U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes have killed 9,842 people across Syria, of which: 6,860 dead were ISIL fighters, 309 Al-Nusra Front militants and other rebels, 140 government soldiers and 2,533 civilians. The air strikes occurred in the period between 22 September 2014 and 22 August 2017.[201]

Russian intervention[edit]

According to SOHR, Russian airstrikes in Syria killed 12,809 people, of whom 3,879 were ISIL fighters, 3,526 militants from the Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and other rebel forces and 5,404 civilians. The air strikes occurred in the period between 30 September 2015 and 31 August 2017.[202]

According to the Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, since the start of Russia's aerial campaign in Syria and by 22 December 2016, the Russian Air Force killed 35,000 rebels and ISIL fighters.[203] Another 8,000 were claimed killed by Russia between May and August 2017.[204]

Medical workers killed[edit]

Circle frame.svg

Killings of medical workers since the start of the Syrian Civil War, according to a PHR summary[205]

  Attacks by government forces (95.5%)
  ISIL or rebel groups (2.5%)
  Kurdish forces (0.1%)
  Unknown forces (1.9%)

A February 2015 joint report by the Center for Public Health and Human Rights of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Syrian American Medical Society asserted that "Syria is the most dangerous place in the world to be a doctor".[206] Roughly half (an estimated 15,000)[207] of Syrian doctors fled the country.[208] The government passed a law in 2012 making it illegal to render medical aid to anyone suspected to be an opposition member and Amnesty International found that doctors and medical staff also took part in torture of patients.[207]

Physicians for Human Rights has been tracking the medical personnel deaths in Syria, though they state that "these numbers are conservative given the difficulties in reporting during a war." As of the end of September 2015, the number of medical workers killed in the Syrian civil war totaled 679.[209] In March 2017, the number of killed medical personnel was updated to more than 800. 723 of these deaths were attributable to the Syrian government, while 72 were killed by ISIL or rebel groups, one by Kurdish forces, and 13 by unidentified forces.[210]

Médecins Sans Frontières has reported that suppliers in Syria refuse to sell essential medical supplies such as gauze and surgical threads to doctors due to government intimidation, with this being a particular problem for besieged areas.[207]

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