Israeli intelligence experts say that the death toll in , according to information published recently by a British organization, is accurate. The most reliable, and well-regarded, source for the death toll in ’s civil war is the independent, U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
According to HLS News Wire the organization relies for its information on a network of reporters, activists, and doctors inside and in the neighboring countries. The SOHR tends to support the anti-Assad rebels, but analysts agree that its factual assertions are not biased. The Guardian notes that SOHR focuses on fatalities for which there is more than one source, and preferably when the names of the dead are known.
The most recent fatality report from the organization says that between the start of the war in March 2011 and 31 August 2013, 110,371 people had died.
The breakdown of those killed is:
40,146 civilians were killed, including nearly 4,000 women and more than 5,800 children.
The toll of government forces totals more than 45,000, made up of 27,654 army soldiers, 17,824 pro-regime militia, and 171 members of the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, which has sent fighters into battle alongside n forces.
The rebels have lost less than half the government toll, a total of 21,850 fighters. The observatory counted a further 2,726 unidentified people killed in the conflict.
SOHR says that the high government death toll may be surprising, since the n army makes few infantry attacks on rebel positions, preferring instead to concentrate on artillery and missile strikes and aerial bombardment. Government troops, however, man hundreds of isolated checkpoints, where they are a relatively easy target for night-time ambushes. Many government troops have been killed in rebel attacks on “soft targets” such as supply convoys, residential sections of military bases, office buildings, and more.
The following video includes extremely graphic content, and depicts a rebel attack on a n army bus.
Western intelligence services agree that these figures are largely accurate, but note that the number of Hezbollah dead is too low. Israel’s military intelligence keeps a close eye on Hezbollah, and it says that the number of Hezbollah fighters killed so far in fighting alongside regime forces in exceeds the number of Hezbollah fighters who died in the organization’s summer 2006 war with Israel.
In that war, Hezbollah suffered about 600 dead. The organization said that only 64 of its fighters died in 2006, but Israel published a list of 440 Hezbollah dead – names, family addresses, and grave locations – and says that it has a list of about 150 additional Hezbollah fighters who were no longer seen after the war. It is assumed that their bodies were never found because they were probably destroyed in the heavy Israeli bombardment of south Beirut and other Shi’a areas.