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.


Israel announces plan to approve 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank

Updated 24 May 2018
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Israel announces plan to approve 2,500 new settler homes in West Bank

JERUSALEM: Israel’s defense minister said on Thursday he plans to seek approval next week for the construction of some 2,500 new homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Avigdor Lieberman, writing on Twitter, said a regional planning board would be asked to designate 1,400 of the housing units for immediate construction.

Settlements are one of the most heated issues in efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider settlements that Israel has built in territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

“We will promote building in all of Judea and Samaria, from the north to south, in small communities and in large ones,” Lieberman wrote, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials, who have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous country.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.