Syrian death toll now tops 30,000
Beirut, September 27, 2012
At least 30,000 people have died in Syria's 18-month-old uprising, a British-based Syrian monitoring group said, and more than half of the victims counted were killed in the past five months.
The report came even as opposition activists said security forces killed more than 40 people in a small town outside Damascus, calling it a massacre.
The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests, has descended into civil war since rebels took up arms against a security force crackdown.
Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30,716 people were killed. Most of them - at least 21,534 - were civilians. But his network of activists, who are based around Syria, do not divide their civilian death count between unarmed residents and those who have joined the rebels.
The pro-opposition Observatory said 7,322 soldiers fighting for Assad were killed, while at least 1,860 army defectors died fighting for the opposition.
"By looking through our figures, we noticed that the toll has been rising. Between 50 and 60 percent of those killed died in the past five months," Abdulrahman said.
Syrian authorities have said in the past that more than 2,600 members of the security forces have been killed, but have not given a casualty figure for several months.
Despite the rapidly rising death toll, international powers are stuck in a diplomatic stalemate. Western powers and Gulf Arab states back the opposition, while Russia, China and Iran are backing Assad.
The violence spiked rapidly in recent months as rebel forces spread, taking the fight across the country and into Syria's two major cities, the capital Damascus and business hub Aleppo.
Assad, who says his opponents are "terrorists" backed by foreign powers, has responded with heavy bombardment, including the use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
Meanwhile, video published by activists showed rows of bloodied corpses wrapped in blankets in Dhiyabia area near Damascus. The victims shown on camera appeared to be male, from 20-year-olds to elderly men.
"A massacre in the Dhiyabia area," says the voice of an activist in one video. "God damn you, Bashar. The bodies are in the dozens. Look, Muslims, look what this dictator is doing."
In one of the videos uploaded by activists, some of the men appeared to have been shot in the forehead, face or neck. -<!--Reuters-->