Wednesday, March 12, 2014


We issue our regular monthly report on Syrian war dead from the NCF's chief Syria anaylst, Shree Wood. We recorded 3,347 as having been killed on the last month we have data from the month of January of whom 842 were pro government combatants and just over 800 were rebels. Shree's report follows below. Full background data in detail as complied by the NCF analysing all available  source data on a day to day basis can be found on this link.

The line graph below is a timeline which helps to depict the rise and decline in the death figures over the last 13 months from January 2013 to January 2014. 

January 2013 

The figures for January 2013 again were much higher than that of the January 2014 as intense fighting took place during that month in 2013. On the 3rd of January, a car bomb exploded at a crowded petrol station in the Barzeh al-Balad district in Damascus killing 11 people and injuring at least 40 others. It was the 2nd petrol station to be hit that week. Rebel fighters also attempted to storm the Taftanaz air base located near the highway which links Aleppo and Damascus, Syria's two main cities.

Another northern air base near Minakh was also surrounded by rebels where a fierce battle between rebels and Syrian forces ensued for days. There were also nightly bombardments in the town of Azaz which saw thousands killed or injured. By January 2013, the death toll had risen to 60,000, according to the UN and various organisations.

January 2014

The NCF has been collecting data from six secondary sources since May 2012. The methodology for the data collection for these casualty figures has been revised several times during that time to reflect feedback from experts and NCF members on the Syrian conflict. In order to present the most reliable figures, the NCF will only resource information and data from well documented sites that remain consistent with its data such as VDC, Syrian Shuhada, Syrian Observatory, LCC and Damascus Centre for Human Rights. The NCF works out the figures by taking the average of civilians, rebels and government figures from their websites to tally up a monthly figure. However, the LLC have not updated their casualty figures since late November 2013.

By presenting the figures in the form of a bar and line graph, the NCF hopes to demonstrate the pattern of fighting and deaths in the different regions in Syria over a period of a year.

The UN has also stopped updating their casualty figures from the conflict as it can "no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100,000 people in July last year". According to Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Office of the High Commissioners for Human Rights, said that the organisation lacked feet on the ground in the country and that it was unable to verify "source material" from those with access. He also added that the UN could not endorse counts put forward by other bodies, including the widely quoted Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

2014 started off on a low note with fresh fighting, this time amongst rebel groups. More than a 1,000 people have been killed since the start of the New Year in clashes between al-Qaeda affiliated ISIS, al-Nusra and rival rebel groups. According to the Syrian Organisation of Human Rights, a 1,069 people lost their lives, of which 130 are children.

The figures show that civilian numbers have dramatically reduced due to civilians being evacuated due to intense fighting between ISIS, other rebel groups and Syrian forces.

In late January Damascus was hit by an airstrike that was reportedly caused by forces loyal to President Assad's regime. Meanwhile, the head of an al-Qaeda linked rebel group in Syria called for a ceasefire between opposition forces, have clashed for five days in the most violent infighting since the civil war began. The leader of the Nusra front also said in a  recording that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group is to blame for the bloodshed. Experts have been unable to verify the authenticity of the recording.

Syrian forces and rebels have also reportedly been using barrel bombs. These are usually home-made, an oil barrel or cylindrical container filled with petrol, nails and other bits of scrap metal along with explosives. These are then rolled out of a helicopter. These barrel bombs have been used as far back as August 2012 but there has been very little media attention regarding their use and the devastation they cause. A handful of netizens and bloggers such as Brown Moses have been monitoring them closely. The use of these weapins in populated civilian areas is constituted as a war crime.

By the time the Geneva II talks began on January 22 in Switzerland, more than 1,500 people had lost their lives across Syria. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 1, 870 people died across Syria during the nine days of conference.

The talks began in Montreus before moving to Geneva. At the conference, US Secretary of State, John Kerry stated that Assad is obliged to step down as part of any transitional Syrian administration: "There is no way, no way possible, that a man who has led a brutal response to his own people can retain legitimacy to govern". Syrian National Coalition leader Ahmed Jarba called on the government to immediately transfer power to a transitional authority.

In response to Kerry's statement, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated, "no one in the world has the right to confer or withdraw the legitimacy of a president, a constitution or a law except the Syrian themselves." He also accused several stated of supporting terrorism and deliberately attempting to destabilise Syria.. The second round of Geneva II talks took place on 10-15 February 2014. A third round of talks is expected but no dates have been confirmed. 

No comments: