Syria's 10 years of conflict kills 388,000

·2-min read

Syria's civil war has claimed more than 388,000 lives in the 10 years since it erupted in March 2011, a war monitor says.

The death toll of at least 388,652 people includes 117,388 civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added in an update on Sunday, a day before the 10th anniversary of the start of Syria's crisis.

The Britain-based watchdog said it had documented 22,254 children among the civilian deaths.

Syria's crisis started with peaceful pro-democracy protests on March 15, 2011 against President Bashar Assad amid a wave of Arab Spring uprisings.

It soon evolved into a full-blown conflict, drawing in foreign fighters and powers and displacing millions of Syrians who fled for their lives.

In December last year, the observatory reported that at least 6817 people were killed in Syria in 2020, the lowest annual death toll in the country's civil war.

The drop in the 2020 fatalities, compared to the previous years, was attributed to what the watchdog called an "international desire" to stop bloodshed in Syria.

A ceasefire has largely held in recent months in north-western Syria as sights have shifted to the global coronavirus outbreak.

However, violence has not totally stopped in the country.

The deadliest year in the conflict was 2014, when more than 67,000 deaths were documented, according to the observatory.

Around 62 per cent of Syria is under the control of government forces and allied paramilitaries, while the remainder of the territory is divided among Kurdish militias, Turkish-backed rebels and Islamist fighters, the monitor said Sunday.

Pope Francis on Sunday called the Syrian civil war one of the worst humanitarian crises of current times, saying the 10th anniversary should spur all to seek "a sliver of hope" for a devastated nation.

I renew my heartfelt appeal so that all sides in the conflict show a sign of good will so that a sliver of hope can open up for the worn-out population," the pope said in his weekly blessing and message.