2018 under different titles…the death of about 23,000 persons, the displacement of hundreds of thousands others, shifts in the influence of the conflicting powers, and regional and international agreements of de-escalation and withdrawal
2018 was not just a passing year, it was a great turning point of another kind, as after 2017, in which the regime forces achieved vast advancement at the expense of the “Islamic State” organization, 2018 was the year of advancement at the expense of the Syrian rebel and Islamic opposition factions, and this advancement was concentrated in the center and south of Syria, where the regime forces and the Russians have completely ended the factions’ control in the capital, Damascus, and its vicinity and in Rif Dimashq including the Eastern and Western Ghouta, the Eastern Qalamoun and the north-western Rif Dimashq, the north of Homs, the south of Hama and the entire Syrian South, where the regime forces expanded their scope of control from 103218 km² in late 2017, to 111444 km² of Syria’s geographical area with a percentage of 60.2%, while the Syria Democratic Forces advanced -although thy lost Afrin- expanding their control from 50640 km², to 53264 km² with 28.8% of the area of Syria, while the area controlled by the “Islamic State” organization shrank after it lost many areas, as well as finishing the control of Jaysh Khaled Ibn Al-Waleed used to be imposed over a territory of 5600 km², to 4297 km² of the Syrian territory with 2.3%, also the scope of control of the rebel, Islamic and “jihadist” factions, the Turkish forces and their loyal factions, and the Western-backed factions in the Syrian Desert, has decreased from 25500 km² to 16175 km² with 8.7% of the Syrian territory, where the rebel, Islamic and “jihadist” factions are in control in an area of 8937 km² (4.8%), the Turkish forces and the factions backed by it control an area of 3695 km² (2%), while the US and Western-backed factions are controlling an area in the Syrian desert from the line of the Tanf crossing to Kherbet al-Shahmi up to the north of Khebret al-Zaqf, in which there is a camp for these factions in an area about 3550 km² of the Syrian geographical which is 1.9%.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the death of 19799 persons on the Syrian territory, since the 1st of January 2018, until the 31st of December 2018, where this year is the least bloody one since the start of the Syrian Revolution, while 2014 was the bloodiest one ever, and the human losses were distributed as follows:
6482 Syrians including 1437 children under the age of eighteen and 886 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
Syrian fighters in the ranks of the rebel and Islamic factions and the Syria Democratic Forces and other factions, movements and organizations: 5852
Defected of the regime forces: 1
Number of persons who were killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces: 1722
Fighters of NDF and gunmen loyal to the Syrian regime: 2237
Fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah: 56
Gunmen of non-Syrian nationalities loyal to the regime forces of the Shiite community: 534
Fighters of the Islamic factions, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, the “Islamic State” organization, the Islamic Turkestan Party, Jund al-Aqsa organization, and Islamic movements of different nationalities: 2746
Unidentified documented by pictures and videos: 169
The SOHR documented 1293 civilian casualties due to shelling by the regime’s warplanes including 397 children and 206 women, while the SOHR documented the death of 752 citizens by the forces of Al-Assad’s regime including 200 children and 121 women, while the Syrian Observatory documented the death of 133 citizens under torture in Syria’s security detention centers including 2 women.
The SOHR also documented the death of 1511 citizens by bombardment by Russian warplanes and rocket shelling of their forces, including 347 children and 228 women, it also documented the death of 635 citizens killed by bombing of the International Coalition warplanes including 197 children and 143 women, the Syrian Observatory also documented 331 civilian casualties killed by the Turkish forces and their warplanes including 49 children and 34 women, in addition to documenting the death of 65 citizens by gunfire of the Turkish border guards including 11 children and 3 women.
The SOHR also documented the death of 1278 citizens by the “Islamic State” organization, including 115 children and 83 women, it also documented the death of 484 citizens by the rebel, Islamic and “jihadist” faction and the Syria Democratic Forces, including 121 children and 66 women.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the massacres witnessed in 2018, according to the different circumstances in which the were carried out, where the total number of massacres in 2018 reached 268, they were carried out by different parties, leaving 3833 civilian casualties including 999 children and 636 women, they were distributed as follows:
The Russian and Syrian warplanes carried out 151 massacres in 2018, leaving 2369 civilian casualties including 620 children and 360 women
The International Coalition carried out 34 massacres, leaving 573 civilian casualties including 193 children and 136 women
The regime forces carried out 42 massacres, leaving 308 civilian casualties including 68 children and 53 women
The factions carried out 13 massacres, leaving 180 civilian casualties including 42 children and 37 women
The “Islamic State” organization carried out 9 massacres, leaving 215 civilian casualties including 42 children and 30 women
The Turkish forces carried out 19 massacres, leaving 188 civilian casualties including 34 children and 20 women
The year 2018 is not easy to be characterized, as it is the year of successive losses of rebel, Islamic and “jihadist” factions, and the “Islamic State” organization, the year of expanding the regime’s scope of control, in large linked spaces, the year of displacement and escalating and continuing the violations, the year of the international decision and regional agreements, 2018 witnessed all of these events, that started with a Turkish military operation on the 20th of January 2018, in Afrin area in the far north-west of Syria, on the border with the Turkey and Iskenderun, where the Turkish forces backed by the rebel and Islamic factions and “Gray Wolves Groups” attacked Afrin area, and caused the displacement of more than 350,000 persons from it towards displacement camps and neighboring areas, and 400 citizens were killed whether through aerial and ground shelling, direct killing operations, or through torture, killing and kidnapping by factions loyal to Turkey or by the Turkish forces themselves, and the matter go further to daily violations witnessed the thefts and looting of thousands of houses and seizing hundreds of them as well as the seizure of farms and agricultural crops and imposing royalties and taxes in addition to the trafficking in abductees and other violations amid turning-a blind-eye by Turkey, which gave the factions and their loyalists in the area, the chance to carry out and continue to practice such violations.
These actions were followed by the regime’s operations in the vicinity of the capital Damascus, the Eastern Ghouta and the south of Damascus, which ended at a series of “reconciliations and settlements”, and displacement movements, where the Syrian Observatory monitored the exit of tens of thousands of citizens to shelter centers, while tens others of children, women, men and fighters’ families have left to the Syrian North and Idlib province, after “reconciliations” agreement that were carried out in the area, between the factions in the area which provided on the exit of those who refuse the agreement, to the Syrian North, followed by operations in the middle of Syria and in the Syrian South, which also ended at the exit of more than 45,000 persons to the Syrian North, in a number of convoys that transferred those who refused the agreement, while hundreds of thousands of citizens and fighters remained within the areas over which the regime forces managed to impose their control and expanded their control in them, also the operation of the South came after an agreement on withdrawing the forces of Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah about 40 km away from the border with the occupied Syrian Golan, followed by processes of recruiting tens of thousands of boys and men or their volunteering in the compulsory military service in the ranks of the regime forces and their allies, in the light of issuing reserve lists by the regime including hundreds of thousands of names wanted for the reserve military service in the ranks of the Syrian regime’s army, which caused a state of widespread resentment after the regime forces -especially in the recent months- carried out periodical arrests and raids, in search for persons wanted for both compulsory and reserve military service in the ranks of the regime forces.
In mid August 2018, Russia and Turkey, after siding Iran away the circle of agreements about Syria’s present and future, reached an agreement on a truce within 4 provinces (Idlib, Latakia, Aleppo and Hama), where neither the regime forces backed by armed militiamen loyal to them of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities nor the rebel and Islamic factions, complied with the truce’s conditions, thus, it was followed by an agreement in mid September 2018, based on establishing a demilitarized zone, whose conditions were changed after consensus on the former, where Turkey and Russia forced the factions to withdraw their heavy weapons, while the regime forces would retain their heavy weapons within the demilitarized zone under a Russian guarantee that they would not use them, as well as the departure of the “Jishadis” from the area later, and conducting Russian – Turkish joint patrols, but the rebel, Islamic and “jihadi” factions wrapped around the agreement and pulled out a part of their heavy weapons, and maintained the other part of weapons within the demilitarized zone stretching from the north-eastern mountains of Lattakia passing through Sahl Al-Ghab and the western countryside of Jisr Al-Shughur, and both northern countryside of Hama and southern countryside of Idlib, and to the southern and western countryside of Aleppo and both eastern and south-eastern countryside of Idlib, until the north-western suburbs of Aleppo city, in an area divided between the regime forces and gunmen loyal to them on one hand, and the rebel, Islamic and “jihadi” factions on the other.
On the 19th of December 2018, the US president, Donald Trump, announced decision to withdraw the American troops from the east of the Euphrates and all the Syrian territory, where these forces are present in Manbij, its countryside, the area of east Euphrates and al-Tanf Base in the Syrian Desert, which was coincided with hinting about a Turkish military operation weeks ago, against the Syria Democratic Forces and the Kurdish Units in particular, in the area of east Euphrates and Manbij area, which required marathon rounds of meetings between the SDF and between the Syrian regime, the Russians, the International Coalition’s command, and high-ranking officers of the US forces, in order to reach a definitive solution about these threat and the future of the SDF controlled areas.
Also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the real number of those who were killed to be 3000 persons more than the numbers that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was able to document, and this estimate of the number of the casualties of the regime forces and the armed militiamen loyal to them of Syrian, Arab and Asian nationalities, the fighters of the rebel and Islamic factions, the “Islamic State” organization, the Islamic Party of Turkestan, came due to the extreme secrecy on the number of casualties by the fighting parties, and due to presence of information about civilian casualties the Observatory was unable to document their death, because of the difficulty of reaching some remote areas in Syria.
The year 2018 is considered the lowest year in terms of number of yearly death toll since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, where the Syrian blood continued to water the Syrian soil, and the killing continued on this land before the International Community, which focused on the war against what is called the “Islamic State” organization, the organization that was created and expanded at the expense of the Syrian blood and participated in the killing and blood shedding of the Syrian people as well, where this organization would have never grown this much if the justice was applied from the beginning, also the International community which put itself as the savior of the Syrian people has participated in killing and displacing the Syrian people as well, and after all this killing the world, the International community and the active parties have no Justifications in delaying an international movement to end the killing, destruction and displacement on the Syrian soil, to give the chance to the people of this nation to have a chance to live and re-build their country and to return their homes or the ruins in their cities, towns and villages, and there are no pretexts or excuses can stand in front of the International Courts to prevent the criminals and the murderers to be punished, with the exception of being those who are responsible for the administration of justice, evade from applying it.
And we in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights will continue our calls for the international parties and the UN Security Council to move and to refer the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court, so that the killers of the Syrian people, their instigators and their commanders are punished, and to and to stop killing and give the chance to the Syrian people to reach the state they want, the state of justice, democracy, freedom and equality and that guarantees their rights, also we in the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and despite of the killing threats we received from the all parties and all killers in Syria, and from parties participated in killing Syrian people, do not and will never stop what we started of monitoring, documenting and publishing all violations and crimes committed against the Syrian people and against the humanity, and the war crimes that are still being committed in Syria, even it coasts our lives.
Link of a high resolution Infographic shows the statistics of casualties in 2018 with a chart about the human losses in the each month in the year
Link of a high resolution Infographic shows the massacre that took place in 2018 in Syria by all the powers conflicting on the Syrian territory
Link of a high resolution Infographic shows the shifts in influence and areas of control in 2018