Nearly 500,000 people have died in ten years of war in Syria, announced on Tuesday (1) the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), in an updated toll which includes more than 100,000 deaths recently confirmed by long.
The conflict, which erupted in 2011 with the crackdown on pro-democracy protests, and involving several regional actors and major powers, has forced millions of people into exile since then.
According to the London-based NGO, which has a large network of military and medical sources across the country, the war has left 494,438 dead – the majority of deaths confirmed by the agency occurred between late 2012 and 2015, he said. of the observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.
In the previous report, published in March, the OSDH counted 388,000 dead since the start of the war.
Since then, the NGO has been able to confirm the deaths of 105,015 other people. Almost half (42,103) refer to civilians who lost their lives under torture in the regime’s prisons. Thus, since the start of the conflict, 159,774 civilians have been killed, including 25,000 minors, according to the OSDH. The observatory also claims that attacks by the Syrian regime and its militias are responsible for most of the deaths.
Thousands of unconfirmed deaths
Outside the civilian sphere, the clashes resulted in the deaths of 168,000 pro-regime fighters, half of whom were Syrian soldiers. Foreign allies of Damascus are also dead, as are 1,707 members of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement. The conflict has also claimed the lives of 79,844 rebels and 68,393 extremists, mainly from the Islamic State and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a former Syrian branch of al Qaeda.
OSDH also recorded 57,567 deaths in government prisons and other regime detention centers. The NGO explains, however, that the toll does not include nearly 47,000 detainees who died in prison, deaths that the organization could not confirm.
The intensity of the fighting has been declining since 2020, largely thanks to a ceasefire in northwestern Syria that includes Idlib, the last extremist and rebel stronghold, and the pandemic, which has focused efforts to all parties to prevent Covid. After recording several victories in 2015 thanks to the support of Russia and Iran, the Damascus regime, led by dictator Bashar al-Assad, controls nearly two-thirds of the territory.
In power since 2000, Assad was re-elected in May for a fourth seven-year term in an election without the presence of international observers. The elections were held in the midst of a severe economic crisis, with a historic devaluation of the currency, rampant inflation and more than 80% of the population living below the poverty line, according to the UN.
In a country with dilapidated infrastructure, Assad presents himself as the man of reconstruction. A recent report by the NGO World Vision puts the economic cost of the war at $ 1.2 trillion.
Chronology of conflicts
Protests against the detention and torture of children and youth who have painted graffiti against Assad are spreading across the country and triggering a month-long wave of protests against the government’s authoritarianism. The repression is strong.
In July, the soldiers who left the army announced the formation of the Syrian Liberation Army. In the following months, fighting with government forces began.
In August, the US, UK, France and Germany called for Assad’s resignation. He is the target of international sanctions, but China and Russia prohibit action against the Syrian government in the UN Security Council.
In the first half of the year, the UN tries to negotiate a ceasefire, but the agreement is not honored. The situation repeated itself several times throughout the war.
In February, Assad holds a referendum to change the Constitution. The proposal is approved, but the rebels consider it illegitimate. In July, the Red Cross called the conflict a civil war.
Rebel forces advance and control cities like Aleppo. Hezbollah soldiers travel to Syria to fight alongside the government.
In April, jihadists announced the creation of the Islamic State. The terrorist group manages to occupy the town of Raqqa, as well as various parts of Syria and Iraq, but faces opposition from other rebel groups.
In August, Assad launches sarin gas attacks against the rebels, generating international pressure, but the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew from a military attack. Agreement is reached for the government to surrender its chemical weapons.
In September, the United States and an international coalition begin airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.
EI declares the creation of a caliphate in June. The international coalition is stepping up attacks against the group.
In May, ISIS dominates Palmira, a city with ancient monuments. The group destroys part of it and releases videos.
In September, Russia actively enters the conflict and begins bombing opponents of Assad, which is a game-changer in favor of the dictator.
Assad’s government regains control of Aleppo, held by the rebels since 2012, and Palmira.
Turkey makes an agreement with the European Union to prevent Syrian refugees from reaching Europe.
In April, government forces carry out gas attacks on Idlib. In response, the United States bombarded a Syrian military base and decided to help the Kurds to arm themselves.
EI was expelled from Raqqa, considered its capital, in October.
The United States, France and the United Kingdom bomb Assad’s forces after another chemical attack on the Duma.
Idlib becomes the last area under full rebel control, and the Syrian government launches an offensive to attack the city. Turkey, however, supports the rebels. Russia and Turkey agree to create a demilitarized zone.
In March, ISIS lost Baguz, its last stronghold.
Assad’s forces invade the demilitarized zone in an attempt to retake Idlib.
In October, the United States withdrew from Syria and did not support the Kurds, who were their allies in the fight against Daesh. Shortly thereafter, Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria. The Turkish government says the operation aims to create an area to accommodate Syrian refugees stationed in Turkey.
In February, after the deaths of Turkish soldiers in Syria, tensions mount between Russia and Turkey, but the countries negotiate a ceasefire in March.
The pandemic is gaining momentum in Syria from the second half of the year. The country is going through an acute economic crisis, with a historic decline in the value of the local currency.
In June, the United States announced strong new sanctions capable of freezing the assets of any person or company doing business with Syria in various sectors, including construction and energy. At the end of the year, Israel launches attacks against Iranian forces in the country.
The Biden government orders an attack on military structures on the Iraqi border, which are said to be used by Iranian militias.
In March, the Syrian pound registered a record decline: $ 1 buys 4,000 pounds on the parallel market. In mid-2020, the rating was 1 in 2,500.