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Over 340,000 killed in Syria war, says monitor

Refugees in the Yarmouk camp in Syria wait for food aid in this file photo. (Photo courtesy: UNRWA)
BEIRUT: Syria’s grinding war has killed over 340,000 people since it broke out in 2011, including more than 100,000 civilians, a monitor said on Friday.
The death toll increased as key international powers step up diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the brutal conflict, and just days before a fresh round of peace talks in Geneva.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP it has documented 343,511 deaths in Syria between the eruption of an anti-government uprising in mid-March 2011 and the start of this month.
Among them are 102,618 civilians, including nearly 19,000 children and 12,000 women.
More than 119,000 pro-government forces have been killed, including 62,000 Syrian troops, tens of thousands of loyalist militiamen, and 1,556 fighters from Lebanese movement Hezbollah, according to the estimate.
Another 59,000 fighters from opposition groups, extremist factions, and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were also killed.
Militant groups suffered the biggest blow, with more than 62,200 deaths representing an increase of 4,000 since the Observatory published its last toll in July.
Overall during the past four months, nearly 12,000 people died across the country — including 3,001 civilians.
A “de-escalation deal” agreed in May of this year has brought relative calm to some of Syria’s bloodiest battlefields, but violence has ratched up elsewhere.
Russian-backed Syrian troops and US-backed militia waged parallel but separate offensives against the Daesh group, including in two major cities: Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.
“Although the de-escalation agreements brought a drop in civilian deaths, the fierce offensives against IS (Daesh) in other areas made it so that civilians were dying at the same pace,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
The Observatory relies on a network of sources across Syria that includes armed groups, government sources, medics, and activists.
The conflict broke out with peaceful protests against strongman President Bashar Assad, but his crackdown paved the way for a fully-fledged war.
A multitude of regional and foreign powers have since intervened in the maelstrom, which has destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and displaced millions.

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