Syria: More than 150,000 killed in conflict

The death toll out of Syria’s ongoing deadly civil war has reached the 150,000 mark, the Syria Observatory for Human Rights states in a report.

Referring to an effort to record all the deaths from the war, the organization has found 150,344 people dead since the conflict started March 2011. They say “51,212 of them civilians, including nearly 7,985 children” are a part of the updated death toll.

They say 37,781 of the armed revolution – including the armed opposition rebels, jihad extremists and foreign terror groups – are included in the death toll. And 58,480 government forces, with more than 35,000 soldiers killed.

The fight over Kessab, an Armenian town in Syria off the Turkish border, is threatening thousands of residents.

Kassab “is a symbol of Armenian history, language and continuity. It’s very symbolic,” said Ohannes Geukjian, a political science professor who writes on contemporary Armenian history and politics. “And so the fall of Kassab, I consider it the defeat of Armenian identity in that area.” […] The clashes led most of Kassab’s estimated 2,000 residents to flee some 35 miles (57 kilometers) to Latakia city, emptying out a village that boasted a Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant church.

“We had to flee only with our clothes. We couldn’t take anything, not even the most precious thing — a handful of soil from Kassab. We couldn’t take our memories,” said a woman to Syrian state television. She identified herself as Kassab resident, but didn’t give her name.

A report states Syria has deployed anti-aircraft missile batteries along the Turkish border, declaring “Syria is ready to deal with any hostile Turkish plane that enters Syria’s airspace.” This comes after an event where a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane.

On the ground

Syria’s government troops have retaken a key post in the northwest Latakia province. Known as President Assad’s home province, the rebels have been recently fighting to gain land in the area by the Mediterranean coast.

The state of Kessab off the Turkish border is in question as rebels were known to have taken control of the Armenian Syrian town. It is reported that government forces are trying to take the town back and thousands of residents are fleeing the new violence.

Through talks

In recent news over the United States allegedly reconsidering more rebel covert aid after an Obama trip to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. is still opposed to anti-aircraft weapons for rebel groups.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, during a press briefing in Washington, declined to say whether Kerry and Lavrov specifically discussed the issue, but maintained that there was no change in policy.

“We have not changed our position on providing MANPADS to the opposition. We have said it’s a proliferation risk – this wasn’t an issue that was even discussed in the meeting in Saudi Arabia” with King Abdullah.

“Obviously we don’t discuss the details about all types of assistance that we provide, but we have made very clear publicly our concerns about this one particular system because it does have a proliferation risk.”

Kuwait’s minister publicly rejects a United States accusation that they are funding Syria terror groups, stating that they are “baseless and groundless.”

Turkey is at war with Syria, Turkey’s prime minister Erdogan said on Monday in a local election victory speech.

Headlines

Lebanon security forces make a new effort to ensure greater security in response to growing violence fueled from sectarianism and from the neighboring Syrian war. Police groups in Lebanon raid homes and arrest more than 20 in push to control violence and set up multiple checkpoints in Tripoli in response to spillover from Syria civil war.

Refugees are now in a grim global spotlight after a Syrian woman self-immolates in Lebanon’s Tripoli. The woman was protesting against United Nations Human Rights aid cuts and is now in a local hospital.

Despite an ongoing war, a mural in Damascus sets a world record. The mural was placed in the Guinness World Book of Records for the largest mural of recycled items.

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