A Revealing Statistic about Who is Responsible for Killing Civilians in Syria


The latest findings of the Syrian Network for Human Rights for the period from March 2011 to June 2021


An Article (with four Charts) by Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 2 July 2021, www.thecommunists.net




The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) is a widely respected NGO which regularly reports about the devastating consequences of the war and repression in Syria. Every year, it publishes its calculations about the horrific civilian death toll (including children) in the Syrian civil war. We did already report in the past about the revealing findings of the SNHR. [1] At this point, we will summarize the results of the latest SNHR report, which it published a few days ago.


Once more, the figures of the SNHR research are both shattering as well as revealing. According to the SNHR a total of 227,781 civilians have been killed between March 2011 and June 2021. Among them are 29,520 children. (See the charts below.)


The findings show very clear who is – by far – the main culprit for these killings: It is the Assad regime and its Iranian allies. They alone have killed 200,117 civilians in this period, this is 87.86% of all the total civilian death toll. Add to these 6,867 civilians killed by the Russian Air Force (3.01%) and it becomes evident that the Assad tyranny and its Russian-Iranian backers are responsible for 9 out of 10 civilian death.


The following actors are responsible for the other civilian death: Daesh/ISIS (2.21%), Syrian National Army / Opposition forces (1.83%), US-led Coalition (1.34%), SDF/PYD (0.56%), and Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (0.22%). The rest have been killed by “other parties” which means that those responsible are not know.


We see the same picture when it comes to children. Of the 29,520 children who have been counted as dead, more than ¾ (77.53%) have been murdered by the butchers of Assad and the Mullahs. 6.79% have been killed by Russian bombs. For the other victims, the following actors are responsible: Syrian National Army / Opposition forces (3.36%), Daesh/ISIS (3.25%), US-led Coalition (3.13%), SDF/PYD (0.79%), and Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (0.24%). The rest has been killed by unknown parties.


If we take the year 2020 alone, we see broadly a similar picture. The main difference is that the number of people killed by unknown parties is much larger. At the same time, Daesh/ISIS is responsible for less death as it has become much weaker because of its devastating defeats in the past years. But the massive imbalance between the civilians (including children) killed by the regime and its masters, on one hand, and the other actors, remains the same. (See the charts below)


These figures reveal very clearly who are the real terrorists in Syria. Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011, reactionary Stalinists and Castro-Chavistas have denounced the heroic Syrian rebels as “terrorists” and “jihadists”. They did so in order to justify their shamefully support for the Assad tyranny and Russian imperialism. [2] However, as the figures of the SNHR report demonstrate, it is the mercenaries of Assad, Putin and Khamenei – not the “jihadists” – who slaughter nearly all civilians (including children)!




A regime without popular support against revolutionaries with a popular base




However, it is important to understand the political rational behind this horrible development. The reason is not primarily because the Assad-Iranian-Russian forces are full of serial killers. No doubt, there are many in the ranks of the regime (but there are also many innocent youths who have been pressed into service). The main reason for this extreme imbalance where one camp is responsible for nearly all civilian death toll is the concrete character of the war. This is not a civil war between two reactionary camps. This is a civil war where one camp (Assad-Iran-Russia) wages a reactionary war of aggression against the Syrian people while the revolutionaries defend the people, i.e. they wage a legitimate liberation war.


The Assad-Iranian-Russian forces are determined to kill many innocent civilians because the mass of the people support the rebels. So, their calculation is to demoralize the supporting base of the liberation forces by slaughtering indiscriminately civilians. In contrast, the Syrian revolutionaries have no reason to deliberately target civilians because most of the people support them. Of course, we can not exclude that members of the liberation forces committed a crime in one or the other case. But there is no systematic policy of targeting civilians – in contrast to the Assadist butchers who first and foremost slaughter innocent women, men and children!




The “terrorists” and the terrorists




Finally, two observations. First, as it is well known the movement of Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has been designated since years as a “terrorist organization” not only by Russia but also by Western imperialism. Consequently, a shiver run down the spine of most Western and pro-Russian leftists when they only hear the name “HTS”. They all agree that if there are terrorists in Syria, it is the HTS in Idlib.


The RCIT has always denounced such a reactionary slander. [3] While we lend no political support to this organization which we characterize as petty-bourgeois Islamist, we recognize that they have become the dominant force leading the ongoing liberation struggle in Idlib. Reflecting their broad popular support, the figures of the SNHR show very clearly that HTS is the force among all actors which is responsible for the lowest number of civilian deaths! As the charts indicates, the Kurdish PYD/YPG – the darling of the reformist and centrist pseudo-left – has been responsible for substantially more civilian deaths than the “jihadist” HTS!


Secondly, it is also noteworthy that the US-led Coalition has killed nearly exactly the same number of children as Daesh/ISIS did. In other words, the terrorists don’t kill more children than those forces which supposedly intervene in Syria in order to combat these terrorists. This is all the more remarkable because Daesh/ISIS – which we consider as an utterly reactionary force – has operated for a longer period in Syria than the US-led Coalition! You see, “terror” and imperialist “war against terror” often are not much different!


We conclude by emphasizing, once more, that all socialist, democratic and righteous forces in Syria and around the world must continue their support for glorious Syrian Revolution. The RCIT calls all similar-minded organizations and activists to join forces in fighting for this sacred goal!




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The RCIT has published a number of booklets, statements and articles on the Syrian Revolution which can be read on a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/. In particular we refer readers to the RCIT call Save the Syrian Revolution!. https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/call-save-the-syrian-revolution/.






[1] Michael Pröbsting: Syria: Who is Responsible for the Civilian Death Toll from March 2011 to September 2018? A Revealing Statistic Shows Who are the Real Terrorists in the Syrian Civil War, 10.10.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-who-is-responsible-for-the-civilian-death-toll-from-march-2011-to-september-2018/

[2] The RCIT has published various documents dealing with the approach of the so-called left to the Syrian Revolution. See e.g. two pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/; Syria and Great Power Rivalry: The Failure of the „Left“. The bleeding Syrian Revolution and the recent Escalation of Inter-Imperialist Rivalry between the US and Russia – A Marxist Critique of Social Democracy, Stalinism and Centrism, 21 April 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syria-great-power-rivalry-and-the-failure-of-the-left/. See also by the same author: Assad’s “Socialist“ Friends. A commentary on a shameful statement of U.S. “anti-war” groups, 26 April 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/assad-s-socialist-friends/; Stalinism: Assad’s Best Friends Forever. A commentary on a joint international initiative of Stalinist parties, 3 July 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/stalinism-is-assad-s-best-friends-forever/

[3] For our characterization of HTS see e.g. RCIT: Denounce the US terror listing of Syria’s Hayyat Tahrir al-Sham! The Trump Administration delivers another blow to the Syrian Revolution. Continue the Solidarity with the liberation struggle of the Syrian people! 03.06.2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/denounce-the-us-terror-listing-of-syria-s-hts/; Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/; Michael Pröbsting: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings, February 2018, Chapter V, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/worldperspectives-2018/chapter-v/.

[4] Syrian Network for Human Rights, 14 June 2021, https://sn4hr.org/blog/2021/06/14/civilian-death-toll/

[5] Syrian Network for Human Rights, 14 June 2021, https://sn4hr.org/blog/2021/06/14/child-death-toll/

[6] Syrian Network for Human Rights, 1 January 2021, https://sn4hr.org/blog/2021/01/01/civilian-death-toll-2020/

[7] Syrian Network for Human Rights, 1 January 2021, https://sn4hr.org/blog/2021/01/01/child-death-toll-2020/







Chart 1: Civilian Death Toll in Syria from March 2011 to June 2021  [4]

Chart 2: Child Death Toll in Syria from March 2011 to June 2021 [5]


Chart 3: Civilian Death Toll in Syria in 2020 [6]



Chart 4: Child Death Toll in Syria in 2020 [7]