BEIRUT, Lebanon — A new count of the dead in Syria by the group that's considered the most authoritative tracker of violence there has concluded that more than 40 percent were government soldiers and pro-government militia members.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 96,431 people have lost their lives in the more than two years of violence that has wracked Syria.
Of those, Syrian soldiers and members of the government's security forces account for 24,617, while members of pro-government militias make up 17,031. Taken together, those deaths account for 43 percent of the total recorded.
Civilian noncombatants are the next largest group of the dead — 35,479, or 37 percent of the total, according to the human rights group.
Deaths among anti-Assad fighters total 16,699, or 17.3 percent, according to the new numbers. Of those, 12,615 were Syrian civilians who had picked up arms against the regime, 1,965 were rebel fighters who had defected from the Syrian military and 2,119 were foreigners who were killed fighting on the Syrian rebels' behalf, the group reported.
The observatory's director, Rami Abdurrahman, said the group had been unable to determine what role, if any, 2,460 of the dead had had in the fighting. Fighters from the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has recently sent hundreds of members to Syria on Assad's behalf, account for 145 deaths, the group said.
There are no official counts of deaths in Syria, and the observatory's new statistics are likely to be sharply disputed. Another group, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, which makes no effort to tally government casualties, released a report Wednesday that claimed that it had documented 83,598 deaths, of which 75,992 were civilians and 7,606 were rebel fighters.