Casualties of the Syrian Civil War
Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, per opposition activist groups, vary between 371,222 and more than 570,000. 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. Based on Syria's pre-war population of 20.8 million from 2011, this represented approximately 2% of Syria's pre-war population.
|Population 21 ±.5: Displaced 6 ±.5,|
Refugee 5.5 ±.5, Casualty 0.5 ±.1 (millions)
|By Country||Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt|
|Casualties of Conflict|
|Crimes||Human rights violations, Massacres, Rape|
|Return of Refugees · Refugees as weapons · Prosecution of War criminals|
UNICEF reported that over 500 children had been killed by early February 2012. Another 400 children were reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons. Both claims were contested by the Syrian government. The United Nations stated that by the end of April 2014, 8,803 children had been killed, while the Oxford Research Group said that a total of 11,420 children died in the conflict by late November 2013. By early December 2018, the opposition activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported the number of children killed in the conflict had risen to 21,065, while at the same time 13,173 women were also killed.
Additionally, over 600 detainees and political prisoners had died under torture by the start of 2012. By February 2017, Amnesty International estimated between 5,000 and 13,000 people had been executed in government prisons, and thousands more people are reported to have died due to torture by Syrian authorities.
All of the following totals include civilians, rebels and government forces:
|Syrian Centre for Policy Research||470,000 killed||15 March 2011 – 11 February 2016|
|UN and Arab League Envoy to Syria||400,000 killed||15 March 2011 – 23 April 2016|
|Syrian Observatory for Human Rights||371,222–570,000 killed||15 March 2011 – 15 March 2019|
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 said that real civilian deaths do occur on a regular basis. Several Middle East analysts, including Sharmine Narwani from the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper and the UAE/Saudi Al Arabiya website, also urged caution.
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 earliest days of the conflict were being counted under the category of "civilians" as they were not army nor army defectors.
In May 2013, SOHR stated that at least 41,000 of those killed during the conflict were Alawites. By April 2015, reportedly a third of the country's 250,000 Alawites that were of fighting age had been killed. In April 2017, a pro-opposition source claimed 150,000 young Alawites had died.
Death tolls by time periods
The following figures were all compiled by the SOHR which is considered an authoritative source on the matter. The figures are only for documented deaths, while the SOHR estimates another 188,000 undocumented deaths had occurred.
Death tolls by provinces
According to the Syrian opposition website Syrian Martyrs, the conflict's death toll was 151,888 up to 30 April 2016, which was the time of its last update. The number includes 35,859 rebel combatants but does not include members of the government security forces or pro-government foreign combatants who have died. Early in the conflict, the Syrian Martyrs number of civilian deaths was significantly higher than the ones presented by other organisations, including the UN; among the reasons are that they recorded deaths even when no name is given for the reportedly killed individual and that they collated reports of deaths from more sources.
|Governorate||Number of deaths|
According to the pro-opposition Syrian Network for Human Rights, 224,948 civilians had been killed between March 2011 and September 2019.
|Perpetrator||Number of killed civilians||Men||Women||Children|
|Syrian government forces||199,411||164,213||11,854||22,733|
|Other unnamed parties||5,239||3,156||734||1,164|
|Other rebel forces||4,131||2,451||873||981|
|International Coalition Forces||3,037||1,455||656||924|
|Syrian Democratic Forces||1,157||768||152||203|
|Hayat Tahrir al Sham||455||301||74||64|
According to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 112,623 civilians had been killed between March 2011 and March 2019.
|Perpetrator||Number of killed civilians||Men||Women||Children|
|Syrian government forces||85,767||59,544||10,008||16,215|
|International Coalition forces||3,818||2,127||704||987|
|Syrian military and police||65,187–100,187 killed|
|Syrian militias||50,484–64,484 killed|
|Lebanese Hezbollah||1,677–2,000 killed|
|Other non-Syrian militiamen||8,109 killed|
The non-Syrian militiamen fatalities figure includes: over 2,000 Afghans, at least 1,308 Iraqi Shia militiamen, 561 Iranians, 158 Pakistanis, one Lebanese member of the SCNP, one member of the Lebanese Amal Movement and a Saudi Shiite fighter. Other sources put the overall number of killed Iranian-lead forces, which also includes the Afghan and Pakistani militias, at between 2,500 and 3,500 by the end of August 2017. Also, 1,858 Palestinian militiamen have been killed, according to the PFLP–GC, and these include: 1,100 Liwa Al-Quds fighters, 400 PFLP–GC members, 285 members of the PLA, 42 who belonged to Fatah al-Intifada, 11 PPSF members, 10 Al Saeka Brigade fighters and 10 Free Palestine Movement members. Additionally, the Action Group For Palestinians of Syria reported 21 Galilee Forces fighters had been killed and put the number of dead Free Palestine Movement members higher at 24. 17 PLA soldiers were also missing.
Between October 2015 and December 2017, it was reported that 150–200 Russian security contractors had been killed.
Due to the main opposition monitor SOHR's policy early in the conflict of counting rebel fighters that were not defectors as civilians, a comprehensive number of rebels killed in the conflict, thus far, has not been ascertained. In late November 2012, 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. 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.
|SDF (Kurdish YPG/YPJ)||11,600–12,586+ killed|
There have been 65,726 foreign rebel and ISIL fighters, at least 316 anti-government suicide bombers and 246 rebel child soldiers that have been killed in the conflict. Additionally, 73 foreign pro-Kurdish fighters died.
Foreign civilians killed
|Country||Number of deaths|
Foreign anti-government fighters killed
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. The London-based European Centre for Syria Research put the number of Saudis killed even higher at 729 a month earlier in November 2013, out of 6,113 foreign fighters reported killed by then. The jihadist movement updated the number of Jordanians killed by late May 2014 to 342, although they put the figure in late October at over 250. According to another estimate, the Jordanian toll was at least 500 by July 2016.
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. Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, stated in late November 2015, that 200 Chechens had died.
In mid-May 2015, at least 70 Lebanese fighters were reported killed in the previous several months. In late December 2015, Tunis stated 800 Tunisian ISIL fighters had been killed since the start of the war.
The nationalities of some others are as follows: 2,960 Russians, 403–453 Frenchmen, 400 Turks, 300 Azerbaijanis, 300 Tajiks, 220–380 Germans, 183 Britons, 150 Belgians, 150 Kyrgyz, 138 Albanians, 95 Australians, 88 Bosniaks, 84 Indonesians, 75 Danes, 51 Americans, 50 Swedes, 43 Georgians, 39 Dutch, 37 Italians, 36 Malaysians, 31 Norwegians, 23 Canadians, 21 Austrians, 15–20 Finns, 16 Indians, 13 Afghans, 5 Iranians, 4 Irishmen, 4 Israeli-Arabs, 4 Maldivians, 3 Chinese, 3 Pakistanis, 2–3 Filipinos, 2 Eritreans, 2 Mauritanians, 2 South Africans, 2 Spaniards, 2 Uzbeks, 1 Armenian, 1 Bulgarian, 1 Chadian, 1 Japanese, 1 Kazakh, 1 Romanian and 1 Slovenian.
Foreign soldiers killed
411 foreign soldiers have been killed during the conflict, mostly in the border areas with Syria.
On 2 March 2013, one Iraqi soldier was killed during clashes between Syrian rebels and government forces at a Syrian-Iraqi border crossing. 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. On 9 June 2013, Syrian rebels attacked a southern Iraqi border post, killing one Iraqi guard and wounding two. On 14 July 2013, another attack by fighters from the Syrian side of the border left one Iraqi policeman dead and five others wounded.
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. 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. Six Jordanian soldiers were killed by a car-bomb blast near the Syrian refugee camp of al-Rukban on 21 June 2016.
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. 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. On 29 March 2014, three soldiers were killed and four wounded in a suicide bomb attack on their checkpoint near Arsal. 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. 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. 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. Three soldiers were also killed during an offensive against ISIL in the border area in August 2017.
Following the start of Russia's intervention in Syria against rebel and ISIL forces at the end of September 2015, 116 soldiers had died by 23 February 2019. 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 plane's pilots. Almost half of the deaths were attributed to the crash of an An-26 on approach to Khmeimim air base in Latakia, and the accidental shooting down of a reconnaissance plane by Syrian air-defenses.
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. 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. 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. 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. Later, in two incidents in July and September, two soldiers were killed and five wounded by cross-border fire from ISIL territory in Syria. On 15 February 2016, a soldier died at the border during clashes against human smugglers that tried to cross the border illegally. Two Turkish soldiers died in a suicide bombing at a Syrian border crossing in mid-August. Following the start of Turkey's ground incursion into Syria against ISIL and Kurdish forces in late August 2016, 71 soldiers had died by 18 March 2017. 96 more died as result of Turkey's second large incursion between 2018 and 2019, and were 3 killed in Idlib during the Turkish military operation that begun in February 2018. One soldier also died in March 2019, in the area of Operation Euphrates Shield. Another 13 Turkish soldiers died during Turkey's third incursion in clashes against the SDF.
The Élysée Palace announced in September 2017 that a French servicemen of the 13th regiment of paratroopers died in the Levant region during Operation Chammal. It was not known where the precise location of the soldier's death.
A U.S. pilot was killed on 30 November 2014, when his F-16 fighter aircraft crashed in Jordan following a combat mission against the Islamic State jihadist group. 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. Two other service members died due to non-combat causes in northern Syria in 2017. A US servicemen died on 30 March 2018 by an IED explosion in Manbij. Four Americans, including two soldiers, were killed by a bombing in Manbij city on 16 January 2019. One American soldier was killed on 28 April 2019, possibly due to Turkish shelling.
Foreign air-strike casualties
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.
According to SOHR, U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes have killed 14,022 people across Syria, of which: 9,170 dead were ISIL fighters, 360 Al-Nusra Front militants and other rebels, 169 government soldiers and 3,833 civilians. The air strikes occurred in the period between 23 September 2014 and 30 September 2019.
According to SOHR, Russian airstrikes in Syria killed about 19,170 people, of whom 5,244 were ISIL fighters, 5,563 militants from the Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and other rebel forces, 8,360 civilians and three Turkish soldiers. The air strikes occurred in the period between 30 September 2015 and 30 October 2019. The New York Times accused the Russian air force of specifically focusing on attacking civilian hospitals and other medical facilities, including hospitals on so-called "deconfliction list".
According to Airwars, a not-for-profit transparency project aimed both at tracking and archiving international military actions in conflict zones such as Iraq, Syria and Libya, Russian airstrikes have killed 3,736–5,510 civilians
Medical workers killed
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". Roughly half (an estimated 15,000) of Syrian doctors fled the country. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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Arabs constitute the major ethnic group in Syria, making up between 80 and 85% of the population.
Kurds are the second largest ethnic group in Syria, making up around 10% of the Syrian population and distributed among four regions...with a Yazidi minority that numbers around 40,000...
Turkmen are the third largest ethnic group in Syria, making up around 4–5% of the population. Some estimations indicate that they are the second biggest group, outnumbering Kurds, drawing on the fact that Turkmen are divided into two groups: the rural Turkmen who make up 30% of the Turkmen in Syria and who have kept their mother tongue, and the urban Turkmen who have become Arabised and no longer speak their mother language...
Assyrians are the fourth largest ethnic group in Syria. They represent the original and oldest inhabitants of Syria, today making up around 3–4% of the Syrian population...
Circassians are the fifth largest ethnic group in Syria, making up around 1.5% of the population...
Armenians are sixth largest ethnic group in Syria, making up around 1% of the population...
There are also a small number of other ethnic groups in Syria, including Greeks, Persians, Albanians, Bosnian, Pashtuns, Russians and Azeri people...
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