2017…the year of the military change and the rise of the regime and its allies to head the list of military powers and influences followed by the SDF…and the loss of the opposition and the organization to large spaces of their controlled areas
About 39 thousands were killed in 2017; hundreds of thousands were displaced and injured
The year 2017 did not end as its predecessors, the daily events kept taking place during the months of the year since the beginning of January to the end of December. This year forcefully imposed its self, turned the picture upside down changing the map and powers, along with local, regional and international political benefits and gains, gains that went as far as the bullet was able to go, wherever the bullet and projectile reach they have the absolute power.
The beginning was since the post-Aleppo era, where the regime won its last round within it and the opposition lost its existence in most of it, the regime forces started their military operation with the beginning of 2017 and have not finished it yet, even though they have arrived from Aleppo to the borders of Iraq, at the beginning of the operation the size of control on Syrian territory was different than now, where the “Islamic State” organization used to lead the control by 95325 km² with a total of 51.48% of the Syrian geography, followed by the Syria Democratic Forces by controlling an area of 35144 km² which is 19% of the Syrian geography, while the regime forces ranked third with an area of 31419 equal to 17% of the Syrian land, and the factions ranked fourth with 23053 km² which is 12.4% of Syria, where the factions used to controlled an area of 20828 km² (11.2% of Syrian land), the “Euphrates shield” factions used to control an area of 2225 km² (1.2%) and Jaysh Khalid Ibn Al-Walid came in last place as usual with an area of 239 km² which about 0.13% of the Syrian geography.
These percentages of control have pushed the regime forces and their allies of the Russians, Iranians, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraqi Hezbollah and Iraqi, Syrian and Afghani militiamen to define one goal that corresponds to international vision and direction, namely: fighting the “Islamic State” organization and advancing on its expense, so 2 simultaneous military operations were launched, one from the northeast of Aleppo and the other one from the east of Homs, coincided with the truce of the Russian Caesar “Vladimir Putin” and the Sultan “Recep Tayyip Erdogan”, and the clashes against the “Islamic State” organization were accompanied by conferences and meetings between the delegations of the opposition and the regime in Geneva and Astana, the year 2017 saw five meetings from Geneva 4 to Geneva 8, and from Astana 1 to Astana 8. The regime exploited the internationally-sponsorship political train, and started devouring the “Islamic State” organization’s controlled areas until it was able to flip the picture and the map is changed, and military forces climbed at the back of each other’s, where the regime forces was the first in terms of influence and the biggest winner followed by the Syria Democratic forces, while the “Islamic State” organization returned to be the defender of its last of what remained for it in Syria, the regime forces have taken control of more than 72000 km² during the year 2017, and now they control about 103218 km² which is 55.8% of the Syrian territory, and the Syria Democratic Forces have advanced and controlled about 15500 km² and controlled 27.4% which is an area of 50640 km² of Syria, while the “Islamic State” organization’s control has fallen after losing 89722 km², and it has become controlling 3% of the Syrian geography only which is an area of 5600 km², but the control percentage of factions’ control as well as the US-backed factions’ control was not steady, and the Turkish-supported forces of the “Euphrates Wrath” operation have expanded their control, until the whole factions of the rebel and Islamic factions, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, factions supported by the Coalition, and the factions of the “Euphrates Shield” have become in control of 13.7% of the Syrian territory which is about 25500 km², where the moderate factions are controlling 8.4% of it, which is an area of about 15600 km², and in this area there is about 2250 km² is under the control of the “Euphrates Shield” Operation factions supported by Turkey at a percentage of 1.2%, 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%.
These changes in the control map and the rise and fall of the influence of the military forces at the expense of others were accompanied by a demographic change imposed by the conflicts of control; and the obstinacy by parties to add an area or another to its controlled areas. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitored operations of displacement and demographic change, the starting point of which were different areas but the destination was one, namely: the Syrian north. The Observatory monitored displacement of thousands of fighters, their families and civilians who refused these kind of agreements, the agreements included the Western Qalamoun at the Syrian-Lebanese border, Zabadani, Madaya, Baqin, al-Fu’ah, Kafriya, al-Wa’er neighborhood in Homs city, the eastern neighborhoods of Damascus and Wadi Barada, also the various violent clash in most of the Syrian areas have caused displacements operations involved tens of thousands of citizens, in Deir Ezzor, Al-Raqqah, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Al-Hasakah.
The year 2017 witnessed significant additional events, the most important of which was the Black Tuesday massacre in the southern countryside of Khan Shaykhun city in Idlib Province, which claimed the lives of 88 citizens including 31 children under the age of eighteen and 21 citizen women, in addition to injuring tens of others, and medical sources confirmed to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights back then, that one of the neighborhoods in Khan Shaykhun city was shelled by substances believed to be caused by using gases, which caused suffocation, accompanied by heavy respiratory secretions, narrow myosis, general paleness and spasm, and other symptoms appeared on the injuries, and the Syrian scene has experienced tension of another kind, where the International Coalition worked to find a place for its forces and its supported factions near the Tanf border crossing with Iraq, and carried out several airstrikes targeting the regime forces and the militiamen loyal to them of Syrian, Arab and Asian nationality and killed and injured tens of them, most notably was the airstrikes that targeted al-Shayrat Airbase in mid-May 2017, back then the United States claimed that the airstrikes came in the wake of the Khan Shaykhun massacre, from which the warplanes took off and bombarded Khan Shaykhun city causing the massacre, also sites of the regime forces and their allies of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian forces, have witnessed Israeli aerial shelling and bombardment, targeted military positions, artilleries, depots and military vehicles, killing and injuring tens of members of the regime forces and militiamen loyal to them, the Israeli warplanes have also carried out airstrikes and targeted Jaysh Khalid Ibn Al-Walid which swore allegiance to the “Islamic State” organization, and killed 2 of its leaders and killed and injured tens of others in Yarmouk Basin in the western countryside of Daraa.
These separate events throughout 2017 were accompanied by the continuation of killing on the Syrian soil against the Syrian civilians to children, women, youth, men and the elderly, as well as the continued fall of casualties among the rebel and Islamic factions, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, the “Islamic State” organization, the Syria Democratic Forces, the forces supported by the International Coalition, the regime forces and their allies of the Russians, Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, and the Syrian clan forces which were formed with Russian support, Iranian support or the regime forces’ support, and fought alongside the regime forces in the Syrian desert, and the constant clashes have caused the death and injury of tens of thousands of people on the Syrian soil in 2017. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has not stooped monitoring and documenting the casualties, where the number of people who were killed since the first of January 2017 until the end of December 2017 was 33425 people, and the casualties distributed as follows:
- Civilian casualties: 10507 Syrians including 2109 children under the age of eighteen and 1492 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- Syrian fighters of the rebel and Islamic factions, the Syria Democratic Forces and other factions, movements and organizations: 6452
- Defected of the regime forces: 9
- Number of people killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces: 2923
- Fighters of NDF and gunmen loyal to the Syrian regime: 4435
- Fighters of the Islamic factions, Fateh al-Sham Front “Nusra Front formerly”, the “Islamic State” organization, the Islamic Turkestan Party, Jund al-Aqsa organization, Jund al-Sham, al-Khadra’a Battalion, Jund al-Sham al-Shishan, and Islamic movements of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities: 7494
- Fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah: 212
- Gunmen of non-Syrian nationalities loyal to the regime forces of the Shiite community: 1243
- Unidentified documented by pictures and videos: 150
The total number of civilian casualties is 10507, distributed below according to party that caused the death:
- By raids of Bashar al-Assad’s regime warplanes and helicopter 1718 civilian casualties, and they are: 1035 men, 390 children under the age of eighteen and 293 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- By Russian rocket and air strikes 1884 and they are: 1133 men and young men, 443 children under the age of eighteen and 308 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- By bombing by warplanes of the International Coalition 2423 Syrian civilians and they are: 1556 men, 438 children under the age of eighteen and 429 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- By bombing and shelling by the Turkish forces and warplanes 254 civilian casualties and they are: 145 men and young men, 66 children under the age of eighteen and 43 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- By Bashar al-Assad’s regime forces and the gunmen loyal to them of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities 1771 civilian casualties and they are: 1251 men and young men, 350 children under the age of eighteen and 170 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- Casualties in detention centers and prisons of the regime 121 civilian casualties, and they are 121 men and young men.
- By the opposition factions 434 civilian casualties and they are: 272 men, 91 children under the age of eighteen and 71 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- By the “Islamic State” organization 1788 civilian casualties and they are: 1298 men, 317 children under the age of eighteen and 173 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
- By the Turkish border guards 114 civilian casualties, they are 95 men and young men, 14 children under the age of eighteen and 5 citizen women over the age of eighteen.
Also the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the real number of those who were killed to be about 5000 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 organizations of Jund al-Sham, Fateh al-Sham Front (Jabhat Al-Nusra earlier), Jund al-Aqsa, al-Umma Brigade, al-Battar Battalion, al-Mujahedeen and al-Ansar Army, the Islamic Party of Turkestan and Jund al-Sham al-Shishan, 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 2017 is considered the second lowest years in terms of number of yearly casualties since the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, but still, the Syrian blood keeps watering the Syrian soil, and the continuation of killing on this land in front of 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, as 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 and their details in 2017