Syria death toll tops 380,000 in almost 9-year war, says monitor

A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on January 2, 2020 shows Syrian government forces firing at positions of rebel fighters in the countryside of Maaret al-Numan. (AFP)
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Updated 05 January 2020

Syria death toll tops 380,000 in almost 9-year war, says monitor

  • The total death toll does not include some 88,000 people who died of torture in regime jails, or thousands missing after being abducted by all sides in the conflict

BEIRUT: Almost nine years of civil war in Syria has left more than 380,000 people dead including over 115,000 civilians, a war monitor said in a new toll on Saturday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources across the country, said they included around 22,000 children and more than 13,000 women.
The conflict flared after unprecedented anti-government protests in the southern city of Daraa on March 15, 2011.
Demonstrations spread across Syria and were brutally suppressed by the regime, triggering a multi-front armed conflict that has drawn in rebels and foreign powers.
The conflict has displaced or sent into exile around 13 million Syrians, causing billions of dollars’ worth of destruction.
The Britain-based Observatory’s last casualty toll on the Syrian conflict, issued in March last year, stood at more than 370,000 dead.
The latest toll included more than 128,000 Syrian and non-Syrian pro-regime fighters.
More than half of those were Syrian soldiers, while 1,682 were from the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah whose members have been fighting in Syria since 2013.
The war has also taken the lives of more than 69,000 opposition rebels and Kurdish-led fighters.
It has killed more than 67,000 militants, mainly from Daesh and Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.


13m - Syrians have been displaced or sent into exile due to the conflict that has caused billions of dollars’ worth of destruction.

The total death toll does not include some 88,000 people who died of torture in regime jails, or thousands missing after being abducted by all sides in the conflict.
With the support of powerful allies Russia and Iran, Syria’s Bashar Assad has inched his way back in recent years to controlling almost two-thirds of the country.
That comes after a string of victories against fighters and rebels since 2015, but also his forces being deployed to parts of the northeast of the country under a deal to halt a Turkish cross-border operation last year.
Several parts of the country, however, remain beyond the reach of the Damascus government.
They include the last major opposition bastion of Idlib, a region of some 3 million people that is ruled by the rebels of HTS.
An escalation in violence there in recent weeks has caused 284,000 people to flee their homes, according to the UN.
In the northeast, Turkish troops and their proxies control a strip of land along the border after seizing it from Kurdish fighters earlier this year.
Kurdish-led forces control the Far East Syria, where US troops have been deployed near major oil fields.
Syria’s conflict is estimated to have set its economy back three decades, destroying infrastructure and paralyzing the production of electricity and oil.


Pompeo says letting Iran arms embargo expire is ‘nuts’

Updated 14 August 2020

Pompeo says letting Iran arms embargo expire is ‘nuts’

  • Pompeo reiterated that Iran should not be allowed to buy and sell weapons
  • He called the Islamic Republic “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism”

VIENNA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday urged an extension to a UN arms embargo on Iran, saying it would be “nuts” to let it expire.
Opposition from UN Security Council veto powers China and Russia is expected to block a resolution to extend the blockade beyond October.
Pompeo reiterated during a visit to Vienna that Iran should not be allowed to buy and sell weapons, calling the Islamic Republic “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
“I mean that’s just nuts... We’re urging the whole world to join us” to extend the arms embargo, he said.
As things stand arms sanctions are set to be eased gradually from October, under a Security Council resolution blessing a 2015 deal Iran signed with world powers to limit its ability to develop a nuclear bomb — in exchange for easing trade barriers.
The landmark deal has come under strain since the US pulled out of it in 2018.
As Washington has re-imposed crippling sanctions, Tehran has in turn stepped up its nuclear activities again since last year.
Pompeo urged Tehran to provide “full, transparent and immediate cooperation” with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.
After meeting Pompeo on Friday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told reporters that Iran had still not granted the agency access to two sites where it has requested access in order to clarify questions about possible undeclared nuclear activity in the early 2000s.
But he added that he had “hope” continued dialogue would get Iran to open up.
“My objective is to get this access,” Grossi said.
Citing a restricted IAEA report, Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Iran was transferring advanced centrifuges used to enrich uranium from a pilot facility into a new hall at its main Natanz nuclear fuel plant, which was hit by a fire last month.
Grossi said he would not comment on restricted reports from the agency, adding Iran had informed the IAEA of “what has been going on” in Natanz and it was part of inspectors’ “ongoing work.”
Austria is the latest stop on a Central European tour that has taken Pompeo to the Czech Republic and Slovenia. He will continue on to Poland on Saturday.
In Slovenia he signed a declaration that the EU member will “exclude untrusted vendors” from 5G networks, part of the Trump administration’s campaign to persuade allies to exclude Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
Austria has so far declined to exclude any vendor outright.
Friday’s visit was a rare bilateral trip to Austria for a US foreign minister, although Vienna and Washington both say they value their close ties.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who Pompeo will meet later Friday, visited the White House last year.
The under-construction Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to bring Russian gas to Western Europe is a bone of contention between the two governments, with Austria’s OMV one of the energy industry players involved.