The death toll from Syria's five-year civil war has reached 300,000 victims, devastating Syrian villages and cities and fueling a refugee crisis that has confounded political leaders in Europe and the Middle East. More than 86,000 civilians were among the 301,781 people killed in the conflict between the regime of President Bashar Assad and rebels seeking to overthrow him, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this week.
The new death toll represents an increase of about 9,000 people since the monitoring group released its previous count in August. Humanitarian groups sent 20 trucks filled with food, children's clothes and toys into northern Syria from the Turkish border town of Cilvegozu to try to provide some relief, Sky News reported Tuesday.
Of the nearly 5,000 deaths recorded in July, 1,289 were civilians, including 263 children and 191 women, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Hundreds of people were killed by airstrikes from Russian and Syrian warplanes, while 14 people were executed by the Islamic State group, which calls Syria and Iraq home. Other victims were killed by rebel groups, poor health conditions, booby trapped vehicles and various circumstances, such as "unidentified gunmen, explosions, landmines and sniper fire," the human rights group said. In all, Assad's violent regime has been linked to about 75 percent of the casualties since the war began in March 2011.
A ceasefire between rebel groups, including Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the Syrian army took effect at sunset Monday, resulting in no civilian deaths in the first 15 hours of the truce, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Both sides continued fighting, however, with bombing over some villages in the Hama province and shelling near Damascus reported by witnesses, BBC News reported.
More than half of Syria's population of 22 million has been displaced because of the civil war. Nearly 5 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, while 6.6 million are internally displaced within Syria, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Europe has seen about one million asylum requests from Syrians.