Syrian civil war has its deadliest month yet
By McClatchy Newspapers
Published: Monday, April 1, 2013, 9:06 p.m.
March was the deadliest month so far in Syria's 2-year-old civil war, as rebels pressed their offensive throughout the country, seizing a provincial capital for the first time and launching attacks on other fronts.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 5,896 civilians and combatants died last month, surpassing the 5,400 deaths the observatory recorded in August, the previous high-water mark. The observatory logged 3,893 deaths in February.
Death tolls reported for Syria's conflict are thought to be largely incomplete. A U.N.-funded study that attempted to collate death reports from a variety of sources concluded in January that at least 60,000 people had died in the conflict by then, at a time that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had recorded 46,000 dead.
The observatory, which reports deaths as civilian, rebel, government soldiers and unknown, is considered to keep the most authoritative running tally.
Examining its reports on a monthly basis provides a clearer picture of the war's trends than daily news accounts of the horrific violence do.
March's numbers reveal the extent to which better-equipped rebels on the offensive have changed the war's complexion. While virtually the same number of civilians died in March as in February — 1,780 versus 1,770 — rebel and government forces suffered far greater casualties. Rebel deaths totaled 1,720 in March, compared with 1,128 in February, a 52 percent increase, while Syrian government forces lost 1,281 in March, a 29 percent increase over the 994 reported in February.
That dramatically changed the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths. In March, civilians accounted for 30 percent of the dead; in February they were 45 percent.
“Rebel actions now frequently involve multiple units, and many rebel units are heavily armed,” said Jeff White, a defense analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research center in the U.S. capital.
White said he thought that new weapons, particularly Croatian arms purchased by Saudi Arabia and shipped to the rebels with American approval, were responsible for the apparent increase in combat deaths.
The most dramatic sign of that increase was rebel deaths, a likely reflection of the new aggressiveness with which they assaulted government positions in Syria's north and east.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 284 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster
- Missing plane’s black box batteries feared to have died
- 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria; militants blamed
- Cannibalism feared in Pakistan
- Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi to serve time helping seniors
- North Korean embassy officials in London pay visit to salon owner
- Iran blasts ambassador visa denial
- Ukraine bares teeth as troops repel rebels
- Pair of car bombs kills 25, wounds 100 in Syria