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76,000 killed in Syria's deadliest year: Monitors

Nearly 18,000 civilians were killed in Syria throughout 2014, among them 3,501 children, says Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
Smoke rises after the airstrikes staged by government air forces to the residential areas in Jobar municipality of Damascus, Syria on 31 December, 2014 (AA)

More than 76,000 people were killed in Syria's brutal conflict in 2014, making it the bloodiest year since the country's war erupted in March 2011, the Britain-based monitoring group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), said Thursday.

SOHR said it recorded 76,021 deaths in Syria last year.

Syria's civil war began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest movement inspired by the pro-democracy Arab Spring and demanding the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, but morphed into a brutal war after pro-Assad forces unleashed a massive crackdown against dissent.

SOHR documented the deaths of nearly 18,000 civilians throughout 2014, among them 3,501 children.

The majority of the deaths were combatants, including nearly 17,000 militants (from both Islamic State and al-Nusra Front), 15,747 rebel forces and 22,627 pro-Assad troops and militiamen, SOHR said.

Higher civilian death figures

However, the group's figures contrast with those released by another monitor, the Syrian Network of Human Rights (SNHR), which put forward a higher figure of civilian deaths.

According to SNHR, at least 39,021 people were killed during the conflict in the strife-ridden country in 2014.

Forces loyal to Assad killed 32,507 of the total toll. Civilians made up 24,430 of that figure, including 3,629 children and 3,714 women, while 8,077 of the 32,507 were opposition fighters.

As well as airstrikes used to target civilians, government forces also carried out attacks using snipers, cluster bombs, and poisonous gas, the report said.

The Assad government was also blamed for the execution of medical staff and local media staff members.

But the SNHR does not have access to figures of fatalities by pro-Assad forces.

Opposition violations

The SNHR report also included figures of human rights violations carried out by opposition groups fighting against the government. The opposition was blamed for the deaths of at least 1,257 people, out of which 1,183 were said to be civilians, including 291 children and 242 women.

With regards to the Islamic State (IS) militant group, the report said IS attacks in Raqqah, Hasakah, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor claimed 3,557 lives, out of which 915 were civilians, including 132 children, 79 women, 11 activists and 2,642 opposition fighters.

The Nusra Front was also held responsible for the death of 124 civilians and 29 opposition fighters.

Furthermore, the report documented human rights violations carried out by Syrian Kurdish militant groups, particularly The Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) responsibility for the deaths of at least 110 people, including 102 civilians and eight opposition fighters.

The US-led international coalition airstrikes since December killed 40 civilians, including eight children and six women in Raqqah, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib provinces.

At the same time, 1,397 people died during various bombardments and illegal migration overseas, according to the report.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 200,000 people, displaced nearly half the country's population and spilled over into its neighbours.

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