The Syrian civil war has passed another grim milestone, as the 25-month-old conflict has experienced an almost unthinkable increase in daily violence over the last year. The "official" death toll provided by the United Nations is now at 93,000 people, with the vast majority of lives lost in the last 12 months. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights says more than 5,000 people are being killed every month, with 27,000 deaths coming in just the last six months.
However, the actual total of dead Syrians is likely much, much higher than that, due the difficulty of reporting within the country and high number of people who have simply disappeared. The U.N. only counts confirmed killings and, as with most casualty reports, also doesn't take into account "unnecessary deaths," such as those from disease or starvation, that could have been avoided if not for the war.
The numbers become even more stark when compared to casualty totals from similar conflicts in recent memory. Despite beginning just a little over two years ago (March 2011), the Syrian conflict could soon surpass the casualty totals for the eight-year war in Iraq. Estimates vary wildly, but most put the number of violent deaths following the U.S. invasion at somewhere between 120,000 and 190,000 people, mostly civilians.
The Syria conflict also compares (unfavorably) to several other notorious wars and uprisings. While the totals are nowhere near the carnage of the Rwandan genocide or the various wars in the Congo, the 93,000 figure is nearly half the total of both the Algerian civil war and the Sierra Leone civil war, each of which lasted for a decade (200,000 deaths each.) It's nearly two-thirds of the number of casualties of the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted for 15 years, and about one-fifth of the number of people killed in Somalia, which has been at near-perpetual war since the late 1980s. Syria's war has also nearly surpassed the Bosnian War of the 1990s, which is usually considered an attempted genocide.
In addition, Syria has already passed the casualties figures of the Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka (16 years); both the Russian-Chechen Wars (12 years); and the civil wars in both El Salvador (12 years) and Nicaragua (19 years.)
Finally, the Syrian situation not only surpasses the violence of both Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Syrian Civil War has nearly equalled the deaths all the conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors since 1948, combined. (92,000, according to one estimate.) That one nation can suffer such an outrageous level of violence in such a short time is truly shocking.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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