The death toll after nearly four years of civil war in Syria has risen to 210,060, nearly half of them civilians. Unfortunately, the real figure is probably much higher, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday. The Observatory, which is based in Britain and has a network of activists across Syria, said that 10,664 children and 6,783 women were among the dead.
These deaths began when peaceful protests against four decades of rule by President Bashar Assad's family in March 2011 degenerated into an armed insurgency following a fierce security crackdown. The Observatory said it had counted 35,827 Syrian rebels and 45,385 Syrian army soldiers killed. However, these figures could not be independently verified.
Among the Observatory's documented deaths were 24,989 foreign jihadist fighters, including radical Sunni rebel groups such as al-Qaeda offshoot al-Nusra Front and Islamic State. But the total death toll was likely to be much higher, perhaps by more than 85,000, said the group's chief, Rami Abdul Rahman. Groups on both sides try to hide their casualties, he said, making the fighter death toll very difficult to gauge.
Over 3,000 fighters belonging to Shi'ite militias and groups in Iraq and Iran, including 640 from Lebanon's Hezbollah, died fighting alongside the Syrian army, the group said.
Syria had a population of some 23 million before the outbreak of the war. Besides the dead and injured, the United Nations says some 3.73 million Syrians have fled the country and officially registered as refugees abroad. The rights group also said the war had left 1.5 million Syrians with some type of injury and permanent disability.
In the most recent attack, the Syria's state media claimed the rockets were directed at mosques, churches, and schools. Likewise, Syria monitor Youmiyat Qazifat Hawen says the rockets landed randomly in the streets of Damascus and showed photos of bloodied children and smashed cafes on their Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Jordan carried out air strikes on Islamic State targets for the third day running on Saturday, mainly targeting the jihadist group's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, a security source said, highlighting how the ongoing conflict has metastasized into an international crisis.
"Sorties of air force fighters today bombed (Islamic State) bases," state television said in a bulletin.
It gave no further details. Jordan launched the raids on Thursday in response to the group's killing of a captive Jordanian pilot. The conflict currently shows no signs of slowing down.
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