Mar 15, 2019

The toll of 8 years of Syrian civil war

Friday marks the eighth anniversary of Syria's "Day of Rage," the series of protests that provoked an aggressive government crackdown and ignited a nationwide uprising. Some 165,000 civilians have died in the ongoing violence.

Data: Violations Documentation Center in Syria; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios
Data: Violations Documentation Center in Syria; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Why it matters: Eight years into a conflict that has created millions of refugees, helped fuel the rise of ISIS, and left much of Syria in ruins, innocent people are still dying.

The Violations Documentation Center in Syria, using a team of human rights activists and reporters, has attempted to document the identity of every person who has died in the war.

  • Some have perished in mass executions, such as the one in late August 2012 in Darayya, a working class town near Damascus. After retaking the town from rebel forces, Syrian troops reportedly marched in and massacred hundreds of civilians.
  • ISIS fighters have killed thousands of civilians, many of whom were kidnapped and tortured before being executed.
  • Still others have died in U.S. airstrikes, including thousands who perished in Raqqa during the air offensive against ISIS. Rescue workers told NPR that those airstrikes killed more civilians than they did ISIS troops.
  • And weapons containing the lethal chemical sarin, fired by the Syrian government on its own people, have claimed thousands of lives.

The civilian death toll has declined from its peak in mid-2012, yet the carnage continues. This February alone, 158 civilians died in the violence.

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