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)
Updated 25 November 2017
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Over 340,000 killed in Syria war, says monitor

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.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.