Iraq News

Syria recorded 68,000 deaths in 2017: registry chief

Syria's civil registries recorded 68,000 deaths in the country in 2017, civil registries chief Ahmad Rahal said Thursday (August 9th).

"Last year, we confirmed 68,000 without specifying the nature of their death and 32,000 this year," Rahal was quoted as saying by pro-regime daily Al-Watan.

He did not provide any additional details about those who had died, including in what part of Syria they had lost their lives or whether they had been victims of the ongoing conflict, AFP reported.

Thursday's news come after activists accused authorities of quietly updating civil records to mark detainees in regime jails as "deceased" -- some backdated by several years.

Human rights defenders say tens of thousands of Syrians are held in government jails across the country.

Relatives and advocates say they are often tortured, denied a fair trial, and deprived of contact with their families.

But Rahal said employees at the civil record did not have a "missing" box to tick.

"If a document comes through from any government body -- whether a hospital or another -- to confirm a death, it is confirmed without specifying if they were missing or not."

The Syrian Network for Human Rights has documented around 400 cases in recent months, including those of nine children, where civil registry employees have told family members that their detained relative has died.

Around 80,000 remain forcibly disappeared by the government, the rights group says.

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