Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More than 60,000 killed in Syrian conflict, U.N. says

The United Nations' human rights chief said Wednesday that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the bloody conflict in Syria, a figure that far exceeds even estimates given by opposition groups after nearly two years of fighting.

"The number of casualties is much higher than we expected and is truly shocking," U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said, according to Reuters news service.

The tally, which Pillay said was based on an "exhaustive" five-month analysis in which researchers cross-referenced seven sources, shows 59,648 people killed between March 15, 2011, and Nov. 30. It does not specify whether the dead were rebels, soldiers or civilians.

Given that the conflict has not eased since the end of November, Pillay added, "we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013."

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in Britain that keeps a running tally of fatalities in Syria, said last week that approximately 45,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The U.N. figures came on a day when the Syrian military was accused of carrying out an airstrike on a gas station on the outskirts of Damascus that killed up to 70 people, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees network.

A graphic video of the attack in Mleiha posted online shows several cars and trucks on fire and spewing black smoke as one man holds a dismembered body and screams, "God is great!" Charred bodies can also be seen amid the raging fire.

Men dig through twisted beams and rubble at the site, looking for survivors. At one point, a dazed man with blood streaming down his face climbs out of the wreckage.

Despite recent efforts by Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, to revive the political process and bring the warring parties to the negotiating table, there appears to be little chance for a truce at the moment.

Brahimi was in Moscow for talks with officials last weekend but did not appear to win any substantive concessions from the Russian government on how to deal with the crisis.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov invited Mouaz al-Khatib, president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, to travel to Moscow for talks but was rebuffed. Khatib also demanded that the Russian government apologize for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Heavy fighting broke out Wednesday between rebel forces and the Syrian military at the Taftanaz military airport in Idlib province. Rebel fighters have targeted the facility, saying they are seeking to prevent air attacks on civilians in the area. An opposition spokesman in Idlib province who uses the nom de guerre Abu Khalid al-Idlibi said that several extremist religious groups are taking part in the battle in Idlib, including Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Nusra Front, a group that the U.S. State Department has labeled a foreign terrorist organization with links to al-Qaida in Iraq.

American journalist missing for weeks

An American journalist has been missing in Syria since he was kidnapped more than a month ago, his family said Wednesday, less than two years after he was held by government forces in Libya while covering that civil war. The family of James Foley of Rochester, N.H., said he was kidnapped in northwest Syria by unknown gunmen on Thanksgiving Day. Foley, 39, was contributing videos to Agence France-Press while in Syria. Foley's disappearance highlights the risks to reporters inside Syria. The government rarely gives visas to journalists and often limits their movements. This prompts some to sneak into the country with the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad. Some have been killed or wounded and others have disappeared.

More than 60,000 killed in Syrian conflict, U.N. says 01/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fishing company execs cut meeting short to fish from their balcony (w/ video)

    Bizarre News

    For virtually every other company, this story would sound ridiculous. But for Salt Strong, a fishing company, it seemed to be another day in the life.

    Luke Simonds poses with his balcony catch, a roughly three-foot snook. [Photo via YouTube]
  2. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Blake Snell on the mound


    LHP Blake Snell returns to the majors for the Rays tonight after a six-week stint at Triple-A Durham, confident changes to his mechanics will lead to more strike-throwing and an increase in confidence will make him more successful.

  3. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater


    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]
  4. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp


    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  5. Pinellas legislators talk governor's race, policy at delegation breakfast


    If anybody was expecting state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to quit being coy and and announce his bid for the 2018 governor's race to the friendly crowd at Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative delegation breakfast Wednesday, they left disappointed.