Middle East

Nearly 4,500 killed in Syria during Ramadan: Activists

Syrian refugee boys play with their toy guns on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan at Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

BEIRUT: At least 4,420 people were killed in Syria violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, some two thirds of them fighters on both sides, activists said Thursday.

Compared with August last year, when the majority of the dead were civilians, there were fewer people killed this Ramadan, when most of the dead were combatants.

"More than 4,420 people were killed over the past month," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Of the total, 1,386 were civilians, 64 defectors who joined the rebels and 1,172 civilians who had taken up arms on the opposition side.

Of the civilians killed, 302 were children, said the watchdog.

A further 485 were foreign jihadists who joined the rebels, the Observatory said.

Another 1,010 of the dead were loyalist troops, while 211 were members of the pro-regime paramilitary National Defence Force, it said.

Ninety-two others remained unidentified.

"What we see is that the majority of those killed were fighters," Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The toll contrasts sharply with last August's, which had been the deadliest month in Syria's conflict until then.

In August 2012, 5,440 people were killed, among them 4,114 civilians.

But as the revolt has grown increasingly militarised, and as the battle lines have changed, the nature of the conflict has shifted.

"Civilians have fled formerly populated areas that have become battlefields, for areas firmly under either the regime, the opposition or the Kurds," said Abdel Rahman.

Parts of the north are now in Kurdish hands, others in the north and east are under rebel control and much of the centre is in army hands.

"Civilians are constantly on the move, looking for areas that are uncontestedly under a power that they can identify with and feel safe under," Abdel Rahman added.

More than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's war, the United Nations says, and millions more have been displaced.





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