BEIRUT (Reuters) - More than 110,000 people have died in Syria’s 2 1/2-year-old conflict, and more than half of those killed were civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.
The Observatory, a British-based rights group which opposes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, said at least 5,833 children were among the dead.
“More than 110,371 people have fallen since the day the first martyr of the revolution died on March 18, 2011 in Deraa province, to August 31, 2013,” the Observatory said in a statement. It said 56,138 of those killed were civilians.
“With such a massive and frightening number of victims that have fallen because of the international community’s silence, the Observatory renews its call for the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as all people with a conscience, to work seriously to end the killing in Syria,” it added.
The Observatory said its figures included victims of the gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus which has led the United States and France to threaten military action against Syria. But it counts only about 500 deaths in the incident, compared with Washington’s figure of more than 1,400.
The Observatory, which uses a network of activists across Syria, says it documents deaths by obtaining film and photographs of bodies and by confirming identities through interviews with family, medics and activists.
It said 171 of the dead were from the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to help Assad. The Observatory said it only documented deaths of Hezbollah fighters it could confirm by speaking to hospitals or by confirming that a funeral for a fighter had taken place, through relatives.
Hezbollah, which has admitted its involvement in the conflict, has not disclosed how many of its fighters have died.
On the opposition side, the Observatory said some 3,730 of its dead were believed to be foreign fighters.
The Observatory said the true toll of combatants killed on both sides was likely to be much higher than these figures, because of the opposing factions’ reluctance to disclose deaths among their fighters.
Reporting by Erika Solomon; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Andrew Roche