As the pro-democracy protests in Syria are poised to enter their sixth month, calculating an accurate figure for the death toll from the regime’s crackdown is proving difficult.
According to the UN’s human rights agency, UNHR, the number of people killed, both protestors and security forces, during the uprising is at least 2,600.
"With regard to Syria, let me note that, according to reliable sources on the ground, the number of those killed since the onset of the unrest in mid-March 2011 in that country, has now reached at least 2,600," the UN human rights chief Navi Pillay told the UN Human Rights Council.
While most rights organizations set the numbers of dead roughly in the same ballpark, accuracy is difficult. “Our biggest challenge is communication. When the regime is cracking down on a city, town or neighborhood they switch off the mobile networks and in many cases the landlines,” Wissam Tarif of rights group Avaaz said.
“Those killed under torture are also very difficult to count. We get to know about them mostly after they bury them. That makes proper documentation more difficult.”
According to Avaaz, which will be publishing a comprehensive report on death tolls on Thursday, the number of killed are 3,004 people, including 278 army conscripts, seven defected shabiha (government thugs) and four officers.