Syria recorded 68,000 deaths in 2017: registry chief

This file photo provided on Oct. 8, 2017 by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Civil Defense workers and Syrian citizens gathering after an airstrike hit a market in Maaret al-Numan in southern Idlib, Syria. (AP)
Updated 10 August 2018
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Syria recorded 68,000 deaths in 2017: registry chief

  • More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011
  • Human rights defenders say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in government jails across the country

BEIRUT: Syria’s civil registries recorded 68,000 deaths in the war-torn country in 2017, pro-regime daily Al-Watan reported its head as saying Thursday.
“Last year, we confirmed 68,000 without specifying the nature of their death and 32,000 this year,” civil registries chief Ahmad Rahal said.
He did not provide any additional details about those who had died, including in what part of Syria they had lost their lives or whether they had been victims of the ongoing conflict.
Thursday’s news come after activists accused authorities of quietly updating civil records to mark detainees in regime jails as “deceased” — some backdated by several years.
Human rights defenders say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in government jails across the country.
Relatives and advocates say they are often tortured, denied a fair trial, and deprived of contact with their families.
But Rahal said employees at the civil record did not have a “missing” box to tick.
“If a document comes through from any government body — whether a hospital or another — to confirm a death, it is confirmed without specifying if they were missing or not.”
The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented around 400 cases in recent months, including those of nine children, where civil registry employees have told family members that their detained relative has died.
There could be further such instances which are yet to be documented.
Around 80,000 remain forcibly disappeared by the government, the rights group says.
More than 350,000 people have been killed since Syria’s civil war started in 2011, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor says.
More than 33,000 were killed last year alone, including more than 10,000 civilians and 7,000 pro-regime fighters, it says.
During the first seven months of this year, at least 14,000 people lost their lives among them more than 5,000 civilians and 7,000 soldiers and loyalists.


UN's Middle East envoy urges Israeli ‘restraint’ as Netanyahu warns of further action in Gaza

Updated 19 min 33 sec ago
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UN's Middle East envoy urges Israeli ‘restraint’ as Netanyahu warns of further action in Gaza

NEW YORK: The United Nations' Middle East envoy urged the Security Council to condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Gaza's Hamas toward Israel, saying that it dramatically increased the risk of escalation and a new conflict.

Nikolay Mladenov told the council on Tuesday that "a fragile calm seems to have taken hold." He urged Israel "to exercise maximum restraint as the situation remains very tense," and not use force "without the need for it."

During the latest bout of violence, Mladenov said that at least 103 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza toward Israel, while Israeli forces had conducted 42 airstrikes on various locations in Gaza and fired 16 shells toward Gaza, wounding seven Palestinians and destroying several buildings including Hamas offices and security buildings.

His comments came after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that he was ready to order further action in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip after airstrikes in response to the rocket fire.

“I can tell you we are prepared to do a lot more. We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state,” Netanyahu told the US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC by video link after cutting short a trip to Washington to handle the crisis.

More to follow...