More than 2,000 killed in Syria since Ramadan began

by AFP
Smoke rises cross-fire between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Islamists near Khalid ibn al Walid Mosque in the Khaldiyeh district in central Homs on July 23, 2013. Photo - Yazan Homsy/Reuters

Beirut: At least 2,014 people, mostly combatants, have been killed in Syria's civil war since the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began on July 10, a watchdog told AFP on Thursday. More than 1,323 of the dead were pro- and anti-regime fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The toll for combatants killed has spiked "because the intensity of the fighting is escalating", Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. The overall "toll has been particularly high in the past four days", he added.

Abdel Rahman said that both sides "concealed the real number of dead so the real toll is actually higher".

The figure for pro-regime fighters killed included 438 soldiers, while 69 were members of the regime's paramilitary National Defence Force, the Britain-based Observatory said.

On the rebel side, 545 were civilians who took up arms and joined the revolt, 30 were army defectors, and 241 were foreign and unidentified fighters. There are several reasons why the death toll for fighters has risen in recent days, Abdel Rahman said.

"First, there have been new weapons streaming in to the rebel side. Second, the regime has escalated the intensity of its attacks. Third, fighting inside liberated areas, such as the fighting between jihadists and Kurds, has led to high casualties," he added.

The Ramadan toll also included 639 civilians including 105 children and 99 women, most of them killed by army shelling, said the Observatory.

An additional 52 unidentified corpses were accounted for in the Observatory's toll. The Observatory says more than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict so far.

The United Nations, which on Thursday also gave an overall death toll of more than 100,000, estimates that some 5,000 people a month are dying in Syria's civil war.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters at the UN headquarters that there could be no military solution to the 28-month-old conflict.

The latest figures come as a regime military offensive on besieged rebel areas of Homs in central Syria went into its fourth week, Homs-based activist Yazan said.

The Observatory reported fierce fighting and shelling of rebel areas of Homs, dubbed "the capital of the revolution", on Thursday, as well as the "total collapse" of several buildings hit by surface-to-surface missiles. Several parts of Homs city have been under a suffocating siege for more than a year.

Yazan reported continued "attempts to storm" the rebel areas, as state TV claimed the army has entered the district of Khaldiyeh.

The historic Khaled Bin Walid mosque was hit by shelling for the second time this week, Yazan told AFP via the Internet. State television also reported a car bomb blast in the southeast Damascus suburb of Jaramana killed at least seven people. It said 62 people were also wounded in the blast that hit the Christian-Druze suburb, which has been hit by several car bombings during Syria's war.

Elsewhere, clashes were reported between Brigade 55 of the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army and the Islamist Council in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

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Long live the FREE and SECULAR state of syria.