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Syrian civil war has claimed more than 191,000 lives, U.N. says

Syrian refugee children stand in front of their family residence at Azraq refugee camp near Al Azraq, east of Amman on Tuesday. The high death toll in Syrian civil war reflects the brutality of the conflict, which pits several factions against each other. (Muhammad Hamed/Reuters)

The death toll from three years of Syria’s civil war has risen to more than 191,000 people, the United Nations reported Friday.

The figure, covering the period from March 2011 to April 2014, is the first issued by the U.N. human rights office since July 2013, when it documented more than 100,000 killed.

The high death toll is a reflection of the brutality of Syria’s conflict, which has transformed into a complex, multi-layered war where various factions fight each other.

It also reflects the recent surge in deadly attacks by the Islamic State group targeting rival militants, mainstream Western-backed Syrian rebels and Kurdish militiamen in northern Syria as it seeks to eliminate opponents and consolidate its hold on territory and resources.

Navi Pillay, the top U.N. human rights official, who oversees the Geneva-based office, said the new figures are so much higher because they include additional killings from earlier periods, as well as deaths since the last report.

A group found that more than 191,000 have been killed in the Syrian civil war.

The exact figure of confirmed deaths is 191,369, Pillay said.

“As the report explains, tragically, it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict,” she said.

Men comprised 85 percent of the victims and women more than 9 percent. The sex of victims was unknown in the remaining cases.

The records show at least 8,800 child victims, although the ages of most victims are unknown.

The figures are based on information coming from the Syrian Center for Statistics and Research, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Violations Documentation Center and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Pillay criticized the world’s “paralysis” over the fighting in Syria, which “has dropped off the international radar” in the face of so many other armed conflicts around the world. Her spokesman, Rupert Colville, told reporters that she was referring mainly to the standoff on the U.N. Security Council.

Russia has been one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main allies and has used its veto power four times on the 15-nation Security Council to prevent international sanctions against Syria.


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