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UN reports 191,000 dead in Syria conflict

[JURIST] The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] reported [report, PDF] Friday that at least 191,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict —almost double the number from last year's report. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] stated that the number, based on information from the Syrian Center for Statistics and Research, the Syrian Network for Human Rights, the Violations Documentation Center, the Syrian government and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [advocacy websites], is probably an underestimate, as the report does not include undocumented killings. The report presents documented killings related to the conflict in Syria between March 2011 and April 2014. A majority of the victims were male, and most the deaths occurred in rural Damascus. The status of victims as combatants or non-combatants is unknown.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted for almost three years. Since the start of the conflict, the Syrian government has been accused of committing human rights violations against its own population. Recently Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] cited evidence [JURIST report] that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons inside its own territory on its own people. Pillay has stated that abuses by the Syrian government far outweigh [JURIST report] those by the rebels. In June the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria [official website] warned [JURIST report] the UN Human Rights Council that the continuing civil war in Syria conflict has "reached a tipping point, threatening the entire region." Earlier that month Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [JURIST news archive] declared [JURIST report] a general amnesty for the country's prisoners, appearing to apply the decree to at least some anti-government activists and protesters. In May Pillay condemned [JURIST report] both the Syrian government and the armed rebels for their callousness towards the hardships both groups have imposed on the people of Aleppo. Also in May HRW stated [JURIST report] in a press release that it has strong evidence the Syrian government used chemical weapons on three rebel-held towns in Northern Syria last month.

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