Report: Almost 6,000 Dead in Syria During Geneva Talks

Past three weeks were the deadliest of the entire conflict

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Wang Siwei / Xinhua Press / Corbis

U.N.-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi attends a press conference in Geneva on Jan. 27, 2014.

A human rights group tracking the death toll in Syria’s civil war reported on Sunday that nearly 6,000 people had died since the start of the latest, fruitless round of peace talks in Switzerland.

At least 5,792 fighters and civilians died between the morning of Jan. 22 and midnight on Feb. 14—about 242 per day—making for the bloodiest period yet of the war since fighting broke out in March 2011, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in statement. Putting that number into context, the conflict’s entire death toll didn’t reach 6,000 until early Feb. 2012, 11 months after the initial clashes.

The statement noted 1,622 civilians—including 564 children and woman—were killed in bombings, air raids, sniper fire and shelling, among others. Another 84 civilians died from poor living conditions or insufficient amounts of food and medical supplies.

More than 1,500 opposition rebels, including ones from extremist factions like Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al Sham, were killed in battles with regime troops and supporting elements, said the report. At least 1,017 of the regime’s troops were killed in those battles and more than 550 others from the National Committees and Al-Baath battalions died in opposition bombings or ambushes. 

The Observatory, based in London with a network of activists within Syria, is the main source for death toll figures since the U.N. announced it would stop counting at 100,000 because it could no longer verify the claims made within Syria. More than 140,000 people, including 7,000 children, are estimated to have been killed in the civil war to date.

The second round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks ended at an impasse on Feb. 15 as Assad representatives reportedly refused to discuss the opposition’s demands to form an interim government at the next meeting.

“I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people,” said Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian diplomat who is mediating the talks for the U.N., after a meeting with both sides ended in disagreement. “I apologize to them that on these two rounds we haven’t helped them very much.”

No date has yet been set for a third round of talks.