Civilian deaths in September lowest in Syria war: Monitor

AFP , Monday 1 Oct 2018

File Photo: People inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-held city of Idlib, Syria February 7, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)

The number of civilians killed last month in Syria was at its lowest since the start of the conflict more than seven years ago, a war monitor said Monday.

A total of 139 civilians, including 58 children, were killed in conflict-related violence across the country in September, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said it was "the lowest monthly toll for civilians" since the start of the conflict in March 2011.

Of the 1,059 people who died last month, 436 were rebel fighters, 239 soldiers and allied militiamen, and 236 were jihadists. The identity of nine others was unknown.

The decline in the number of civilian casualties comes after months of government operations that saw Damascus reconquer significant territory.

It also coincides with a deal reached on September 17 by Russia and Turkey -- two of the main foreign brokers in the Syrian conflict -- aimed at averting a major assault in the northern Idlib region.

The province of Idlib is home to the last major rebel bastion in the country and aid groups had feared a full-blown regime offensive would spark suffering on a scale not yet seen since the start of the war.

Fighting is also ongoing in eastern Syria, where holdout jihadist fighters from the Islamic State (IS) militants are defending their last pocket in the country.

The Britain-based Observatory relies on an extensive network of sources across Syria, where it says close to 365,000 people have been killed since the start of the war.

More than 110,000 of them are civilians, it says.

The highest monthly number of civilian deaths the Observatory ever recorded was 6,657 in May 2015.

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