Syrian Observatory: Over 330,000 Killed in Syrian War

Pro-Govt Forces Take the Biggest Brunt of the Deaths

With umpteen different factions with vested interests in the figures coming out different ways, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has become one of very few groups even trying to document the overall death toll of the Syrian War. Today’s report put the toll at 331,765 people nationwide, starting in March of 2011, and continuing through Saturday.

Understanding the breakdown of these tolls is important to understanding which factions have borne the brunt of the conflict, and time and again, Observatory stats have shown the Syrian government and its allies as sustaining the largest losses.

116,774 pro-government forces were killed, including 61,808 soldiers. The rest would be various Shi’ite and Alawite militias, along with a handful of casualties from Iranian forces, and Russian forces. A lot of these militias were basically local defense forces trying to resist Islamist invasions of towns and villages.

Next among the deaths were civilian populations, at 99,617 killed. This included 18,243 women and 11,427 children. The civilians of course, were killed by the various combatant forces, whether airstrikes by various nations, as well as people caught in the crossfire or just executed by various factions for being seen as secretly in league with someone else.

The split among rebels is a bit more complex, with 57,000 being labeled proper rebels associated with international factions. This included Kurdish YPG forces killed in the war, even though they largely aren’t rebelling so much as fighting ISIS while trying to carve out autonomy.

The other 58,000 are jihadist rebels, which encompasses both ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, as well as other foreign Islamist groups. This is a complex figure to parse too, since ISIS and Nusra have at times warred with one another,as well as against other jihadist-leaning organizations.

The Observatory notes in its figures that these are only the deaths that they’ve actually been able to confirm with actual names associated with them, and speculates that the actual toll could be well higher. It’s difficult to know for sure, however, how much if any this amounts to.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.