Violence in Syria has killed at least 33,082 people, most of them civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said yesterday. Some 1,000 people have been killed in the past five days alone, the Britain-based watchdog said. “This is all-out war-there is no other way to describe the violence in Syria,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said. At least 23,630 civilians have been killed, along with 8,211 soldiers and 1,241 army defectors who joined the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad.
The Observatory’s civilian toll also includes non-military defectors who took up arms against the regime. “If the conflict ends and a full assessment is carried out on the ground, the toll may well turn out to be higher,” Abdel Rahman said. His group’s tallies do not count the many unidentified victims of the bloody conflict, nor do they include thousands of people missing and thought to be in detention. They also exclude thousands of pro-regime militiamen, Abdel Rahman said. The Observatory relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics on the ground inside Syria for its information.
TURKEY SLAMS UN INERTIA
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rebuked the UN Security Council for inaction over Syria yesterday as war intensified across the country, saying the world body of superpowers was repeating mistakes that led to massacres in Bosnia in the 1990s. President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces used air strikes and artillery to bombard insurgents on several fronts in the 19-month-old conflict, which risks dragging in regional powers with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough.
Turkey – increasingly entangled after having intercepted a Russian airliner carrying what it said were Russian-made munitions for the Syrian army, infuriating Moscow and Damascus – has led calls for intervention, including no-fly zones enforced by foreign aircraft to stop deadly air raids by Assad’s forces. But there is little chance of United Nations support for robust action given the opposition of veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China.
“The UN Security Council has not intervened in the human tragedy that has been going on in Syria for 20 months, despite all our efforts,” Erdogan told a conference in Istanbul attended by dignitaries including Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby. “There’s an attitude that encourages, gives the green light to Assad to kill tens or hundreds of people every day.” The bloodshed has worsened markedly in the past two months although neither side has been able to gain a distinct advantage, with government force relying heavily on air power and artillery to batter the rebels.
Combat has been reported nationwide but the crucial strategic battles are being fought in an arc through western Syria, where most of the population lives. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was expected to meet UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the sidelines of the Istanbul conference later. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week Brahimi would visit Syria soon to try to persuade Assad to call an immediate ceasefire.
The government dispatched warplanes to attack insurgent forces surrounding the Wadi-Al-Dayf military barracks near Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province, wounding 22 rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The rebels captured Maarat Al-Numan this week, cutting the main north-south highway linking Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, and government forces will need to retake it in order to reinforce and resupply Aleppo – Syria’s largest city and commercial hub.