BEIRUT Nov 23 More than 40,000 people have been
killed in 20 months of conflict between Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad's forces and those fighting for his overthrow, a
violence monitoring group said on Friday.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, said about half the fatalities were civilians and the
other half split about evenly between rebels and goverment
"The figure is likely much higher as the rebels and the
government lie about how many of their forces have died to make
it look like they are winning," Abdelrahman told Reuters.
The British-based Observatory, which supports the
opposition, has been collating the names of the dead since
government security forces started shooting pro-democracy
protesters in March 2011.
Army defectors and ordinary Syrians took up arms against
Assad and a civil war has since taken hold.
Abdelrahman said he only counts deceased people whose deaths
are confirmed by friends or relatives.
"There are 10,000 to 15,000 people who were arrested months
ago so we can't use that number as we don't know if they are
dead or alive," he said.
Reuters cannot independently confirm the figures due to
severe reporting restrictions imposed by the Syrian authorities.