BEIRUT

Middle East

Syrian rights group: Nearly 9,000 regime fighters killed since 2011

FILE - A Syrian Army soldier loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad walks near an army tank in Sheikh Maksoud, Aleppo. (REUTERS/George Ourfalian)

BEIRUT: A Syrian human rights group says nearly 9,000 government soldiers have been killed over the last two years of fighting between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebels trying to topple him.

The report was released by the Syria-based Violations Documentation Center, which documents the number of dead, wounded and missing since the start of the uprising against Assad’s rule in March 2011.

The report Monday said 8,785 Syrian troops and government-aligned militia fighters had died in the fighting. However, the report said a scarcity of resources had made the documentation extremely difficult, concluding the figure was likely to be much higher.

VDC spokesman Bassam al-Ahmad told The Daily Star: “We think the number is bigger, but we don’t know exactly how much bigger.”

The report relied on a combination of government and opposition sources, including official government channels, government-aligned social media pages and information supplied by opposition groups.

During the first months of the uprising in the country, the Syrian government published the names of the dead soldiers through state-run media. However this stopped inexplicably in June 2012.

The VDC documented 8,785 dead soldiers, military personnel and civilian militiamen fighting alongside Syrian government forces, known as “People’s Defense Committees,” and paramilitary forces known as “Shabbiha.”

The report said most of the dead fighters were originally from Hama, followed by Latakia, Tartous, Homs and Aleppo.

Most of the deaths occurred in the Damascus Governorate, with 1,540 deaths registered there, while 1,157 were reported as happening in Homs.

It also noted a huge jump in the daily death count per month between 2011 and 2012, reflecting the greater militarization of the rebel movement.

The report said an average of 147 government-affiliated deaths were recorded monthly in 2011 compared to an average of 527 in 2012. The highest number of deaths was in June 2012, when 781 fatalities were recorded.

The vast majority of government-affiliated deaths were among noncommissioned officers. Three brigadier deaths were recorded as well as nine major generals. The rankings of some 929 dead soldiers were unknown, the report said.

Ahmad said the group did not have a breakdown of the sect of officers and government militia fighters killed.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 09, 2013, on page 8.

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