As the Syrian conflict reaches its 12th year and preparations are underway in the liberated north of the country to commemorate the anniversary of the revolution, many wonder why the war has gone on for so long. What could have caused almost half of Syria’s entire pre-war population to live in run-down refugee camps or abandon their homes, towns and villages and live in the diaspora instead?
In the last month since one of the greatest humanitarian crises the world has witnessed in recent history, devastating earthquakes which leveled cities and killed thousands in southern Turkey and northern Syria the world has been focused, in awe at the great loss of life and destruction. Yet for Syrians, victims of a brutal tyrant, such destruction and large-scale death are not new.
Since the beginning of the Syrian revolution the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) has documented and confirmed 229,435 civilian deaths. The human rights organization, which provides statistical data to the UN and has been cited as a primary source for reports by both Amnesty International and the US State Department has meticulously verified those it counts.
The SNHR’s methodology produces numbers that are a far cry from the actual toll as they only count verifiable deaths of those who can be identified by name, and have certifiable proof of death. The group also counts only civilian casualties which exclude the many Syrians forced to take up arms in defense of their lives, families and homes. However, looking at the data cataloging the crimes perpetrated upon the Syrian people it is easy to see why and who they flee.
Of the confirmed civilian deaths over 200,000 have been committed by Assad, while the UK-based NGO Airwars reports Assad’s main ally and supporter Russia has additionally killed over four to six thousand civilians.
Of the 154,919 arbitrarily detained or forcefully disappeared Syrians over 135,000 of them have been lost in the dungeons of the Assad regime, over 3,000 of who are children. Of those who have entered the vast archipelago of secret prisons and detention centers sprawling throughout Syria, 114,690 of them died under torture, 114,487 at the hands of the Assad regime.
For over a decade Assad has methodically and systematically killed, abducted and tortured the Syrian people, over 87% of those killed and locked away, and more than 99% of those tortured to death are all at the hands of Assad and his allies. Over the last 12 years an average of more than 1,500 Syrian civilians have been killed every month and nearly 3 million forced from their homes by the brutal tactics of the Assad regime.