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 155,587[1] and 402,819.[2] 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.[3]

UNICEF reported that over 500 children had been killed by early February 2012.[4][5] Another 400 children were reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons.[6][7] Both claims have been contested by the Syrian government.[8] Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners died under torture.[9] The United Nations stated that by the end of April 2014, 8,803 children had been killed,[10] while the Oxford Research Group said that a total of 11,420 children died in the conflict by late November 2013.[11] By late May 2016, the opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the number of children killed in the conflict had risen to 14,040, while at the same time 9,106 women were also killed.[2]

Overall deaths

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)

The number of fatalities in the conflict, according to the Syrian opposition website Syrian Martyrs, is 149,007, updated to 29 February 2016.[12] The number includes 34,793 rebels but does not include members of the government security forces or pro-government foreign combatants who have died.[13] 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.[14]

Governorate Number of deaths
Latakia 1,428
Rif Dimashq 34,456
Homs 17,768
Hama 9,750
Al-Hasakah 1,618
Daraa 13,968
Aleppo 30,300
Deir ez-Zor 9,358
Damascus 9,711
Tartus 554
Quneitra 1,048
Idlib 16,444
As-Suwayda 106
Ar-Raqqah 2,498
Total 149,007[12]

Other estimates range from 155,585 to 402,820. All of the following totals include civilians, rebels and government forces:

Source Casualties Time period
Syrian Centre for Policy Research 470,000 killed[15] 15 March 2011 – 11 February 2016
UN and Arab League Envoy to Syria 400,000 killed[3] 15 March 2011 – 23 April 2016
Center for Documentation of Violations 155,587 killed[1] 15 March 2011 – 23 May 2016
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 282,283–402,819 killed[2] 15 March 2011 – 25 May 2016

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.[16] A number of Middle East political analysts, including those from the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper, also urged caution.[17][18][19]

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".[20][21][22]

In May 2013, SOHR stated that at least 41,000 of those killed during the conflict were Alawites.[23] By April 2015, reportedly a third of the country's 250,000 Alawites that were of fighting age had been killed.[24]

Death tolls by time periods

The following figures were all compiled by the SOHR which is considered an authoritative source on the matter.[25] The figures are only for documented deaths, while the SOHR estimates another 95,000 undocumented deaths had occurred.[2]

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[26]
(2013: 30,239)[27]
29,083 killed[26]
(2013: 18,812)[27]
46,266 killed[28]
(2013: 22,436)[29]
2011: 7,841 killed[30]
2012: 49,294 killed[30]
2013: 73,447 killed[30]
2014 25,160 killed 32,726 killed 17,790 killed 76,021 killed[31]
2015 17,686 killed 24,010 killed 13,249 killed 55,219 killed[32]
January 2016 1,599 killed 1,687 killed 1,345 killed 4,680 killed[33]
February 2016 1,442 killed 2,209 killed 1,109 killed 4,802 killed[34]
March 2016 827 killed 1,232 killed 588 killed 2,658 killed[35]
April 2016 990 killed 1,263 killed 859 killed 3,116 killed[36]
Cumulative 2016 4,858 killed 6,391 killed 3,901 killed 15,256 killed

Combatant deaths

Government forces

Pro-government combatants Casualties
Syrian military and police 56,609–91,609 killed[2][37]
Shabiha and National Defense Force 39,221–53,221 killed[2][37]
Lebanese Hezbollah 1,247–1,400 killed[2][38]
Other non-Syrian militiamen 4,585 killed[2]

The non-Syrian militiamen fatalities figure includes at least: 526 Iraqi Shia militiamen,[39][40][41] 381 Special forces of Iran members,[42] 294–377 Afghans,[43][44][45][46] 85 Pakistanis,[47] one Lebanese member of the SCNP[48] and one member of the Lebanese Amal Movement.[49] Also, over 610 Palestinian militiamen have been killed and these include: 261 Liwa Al-Quds fighters,[50][51][52] 161 members of the PLA,[53][51] 92 PFLP–GC members,[54][55][51] 53 Quwat al-Jalil fighters,[56] 23 who belonged to Fatah al-Intifada[54][55] and 21 other militiamen.[55][57]

Except one death (August 2011),[58] all of the Hezbollah fatalities have occurred since September 2012.[59]

In early December 2013, rebels claimed that a pro-government Russian fighter was killed in fighting in Aleppo.[60] In late 2015, it was reported 3[61]–9[62] Russian OSM security contractors had been killed. However, this was denied by Russia.[63]

In addition, 1,000 civilian government officials have also been killed.[64]

Opposition forces

Due to the opposition's policy of counting rebel fighters that were not defectors as civilians[20][21][22][65] 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.[66] 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.[67]

Anti-government combatants Casualties
TOTAL 95,663–121,663 killed[2][37]
ISIL 8,850 killed[68]
Kurdish YPG/YPJ 3,182 killed[69][70]

It should be noted that 44,992 foreign rebel and ISIL fighters,[2] at least 184 rebel suicide bombers[71][72][73] and 246 rebel child soldiers[74][75] have been killed in the conflict. Additionally, 17 foreign pro-Kurdish fighters died.[76][77]

Foreigners killed

Foreign civilians killed

Country Number of deaths
Palestinians 3,202[51]
Turkey 95[78][79]
Iraq 47[80][81][82][83]
Lebanon 42[80][84][85][86][87][88][89][90]
Jordan 26[80][91]
Saudi Arabia 23[80]
Somalia 15[91]
Egypt 12[80]
Libya 9[80]
Tunisia 9[80]
France 4[91]
Sudan 4[80]
United Kingdom 4[92][93][94]
Afghanistan 3[95]
Kuwait 3[80]
United States 3[80][96]
Australia 2[80]
Japan 2[80]
Azerbaijan 1[80]
Belgium 1[80]
Greece 1[80]
Italy 1[97]
Romania 1[80]
Russia 1[80]
Israel 1[80]
Yemen 1[80]
Netherlands 1[98]
Unknown 10[80]

Note: The Palestinian figure includes several hundred Palestinian combatants from both sides and not just civilians.[99] 840 of the killed Palestinians were residents of the Yarmouk Camp.[100]

Foreign opposition fighters killed

47,113 foreign opposition fighters have been killed by late May 2016, according to the SOHR.[2][76][77][101]

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.[102] The London-based European Centre for Syria Research put the number of Saudis killed even higher at 729 a month earlier in November 2013.[103] The jihadist movement updated the number of Jordanians killed by late May 2014 to 342,[104] although they put the figure in late October at over 250.[105] Another estimate put the Jordanian toll at more than 400 by March 2016.[106]

According to Abu Omar al-Shishani, the Chechen ISIS commander, 500 militants from the Caucasus had been killed by mid-January 2014 since the start of the war.[107] Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, stated in late November 2015, that 200 Chechens had died.[108]

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.[109]

In mid-May 2015, at least 70 Lebanese fighters were reported killed in the previous several months.[110] In late December 2015, Tunis stated 800 Tunisian ISIL fighters had been killed since the start of the war.[111]

The nationalities of some others are as follows: 300 Tajiks,[112] 170 Frenchmen,[113] 160 Russians,[114] 150 Azerbaijanis,[115] 124 Germans,[76][116] 101 Britons,[77][117] 97 Albanians,[118] 90 Turks,[119][120] 84 Belgians,[121] 51–60 Australians,[77][122][123][101] 45 Kyrgyz,[124] 40 Swedes,[125] 30–40 Bosniaks,[126] 30 Dutch,[127] 27 Danes,[128] 21 Austrians,[129][130] 19 Malaysians,[131] 15 Norwegians,[132] 14 Canadians,[77][133] 13 Afghans,[80][134] 13 Americans,[77][135][136][137][138][139] 8–11 Finns,[140] 4 Israeli-Arabs,[141] 4 Maldivians,[142] 3 Chinese,[143][144] 3 Irishmen,[145] 3 Pakistanis,[146] 2-3 Filipinos,[147] 2 Italians,[91][148] 2 Eritreans,[146] 2 Indonesians,[142][146] 2 Mauritanians,[149] 2 Spaniards,[150] 2 Uzbeks,[80][151] 1 Armenian,[146] 1 Bulgarian,[151] 1 Chadian,[134] 1 Indian,[152] 1 Iranian,[146] 1 Japanese,[153] and 1 Romanian.[150]

Foreign soldiers killed

82 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.[154] 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.[155][156] On 9 June 2013, Syrian rebels attacked a southern Iraqi border post, killing one Iraqi guard and wounding two.[157] On 14 July 2013, another attack by fighters from the Syrian side of the border left one Iraqi policeman dead and five others wounded.[158]

Jordan 2 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.[159] On 3 January 2015, ISIL burned a Jordanian military pilot alive in a metal cage. The pilot was captured after his airplane crashed near Al-Raqqah while conducting air-strikes.[160]

Lebanon 48 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.[161][162][163] 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 than fled over the border into Syria.[164] On 29 March 2014, three soldiers were killed and four wounded in a suicide bomb attack on their checkpoint near Arsal.[165] 20 soldiers were killed during the Battle of Arsal against Syrian and other foreign jihadists and a further four were captured and subsequently executed. On 19 September, two soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb near Arsal.[166] 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.[167] On 23 January 2015, eight soldiers were killed and 22 wounded near Ras Baalbek after their outpost near the border was attacked by ISIS. The fighting also left more than 40 militants dead.[168]

Turkey 15 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.[169] 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.[170] In March 2014, a policeman and a soldier were killed in a shootout with foreign jihadists near the border with Syria.[171] On 22 July 2014, three soldiers were killed in a clash with Kurdish fighters on the border between Turkey and Syria. Six of the Kurds were killed as well.[172] On 8 December 2014, three soldiers were killed by unknown gunmen on the border with Syria in Ceylanpinar district.[173] On 22 February, a soldier was killed in an accident during a military incursion into Syria to evacuate Turkish troops at the Tomb of Suleyman Shah.[174] Islamic State fighters attacked a border outpost in Killis, killing a soldier and injuring five.[175] Another Turkish soldier was killed by cross-border fire from ISIS territory in Syria in September.[176] On 15 February 2016, a soldier died at the border during clashes against human smugglers that tried to cross the border illegally.[177]

United States 1 serviceman 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.[178]

Russia 9 servicemen killed

One 19-year-old serviceman committed suicide.[179] A Russian military co-pilot 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.[180] On February 3, a Russian military advisor attached to Syrian troops was killed by rebel mortar fire,[181] while another Russian soldier was killed by bombardment while being attached to the Syrian Army. A Special Forces soldier died while conducting target designation during the 2016 Palmyra offensive.[182] Two Russian pilots died in a helicopter crash on April 2016.[183]

Foreign air-strike casualties

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

According to SOHR, U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes have killed 4,885 people across Syria, of which: 4,314 dead were ISIL fighters, 147 Al-Nusra Front militants and other rebels and 422 civilians. The air strikes occurred in the period between 22 September 2014 and 23 May 2016.[184]

Russian Intervention

According to SOHR, Russian airstrikes in Syria killed 6,340 people, of which: 2,270 were ISIL fighters, 1,971 militants from the Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and other rebel forces and 2,099 civilians. The air strikes occurred in the period between 30 September 2015 and 30 May 2016.[185]

Medical workers killed






Circle frame.svg

Killings of medical workers since the start of the Syrian Civil War, according to a PHR summary[186]

  Attacks by government forces (95.5%)
  Non-state armed 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".[187] Roughly half (an estimated 15,000)[188] of Syrian doctors fled the country.[189] 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.[188]

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.[190] 648 of these deaths are attributable to the Syrian government, 17 by non-state armed groups, one by Kurdish forces, and 13 by unidentified forces.[191][192] In February 2016, the number of killed medical personnel was updated to 697.[193]

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.[188]

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