Explosive Violence in Syria in 2022

Syria experienced a significant drop in civilian casualties of explosive violence last year, dropping by 35% from 2,016 in 2021 to 1,304 in 2022. Of these, 340 were killed and 964 injured. Of note, 2022 was the year with the lowest recorded civilian casualties in Syria since 2012. Similarly, the number of recorded incidents also decreased, falling by 8% from 709 to 652. Overall, civilians represented 50% of all 2,591 recorded casualties, compared to 57% in 2021. At least 238 civilians harmed were reported as children, 131 as men and 146 as women. 

While ground-launched weapons continued to cause the majority of civilian casualties in Syria, accounting for 54% (702) of civilian harm last year, this represents a significant decrease from the 1,176 civilians killed and injured by such weapons in 2021.  Similarly, civilian casualties of IEDs fell from 516 in 2021 to 152 last year, a 71% decrease. While in 2021, IEDs accounted for 26% of civilian casualties in Syria, last year they caused 12%. Incidents of both ground-launched attacks and IEDs decreased between 2021 and 2022, from 334 to 303, and from 203 to 149 respectively.

On the other hand, incidents of air strikes increased marginally, from 104 to 129, and civilian casualties of such weapons rose from 214 to 297. In 2021, air strikes accounted for 12% of civilian casualties, compared to 23% last year.

Similar to 2021, last year state actors were the reported perpetrators of the majority of incidents, 54% (355), as well as the majority of civilian casualties, 64% (829). Non-state actors caused 21% (277) of civilian casualties across 35% (228) of incidents. State actors were also the predominant perpetrators of ground-launched and air-launched attacks, accounting for 68% (207) and 99% (128) of civilian casualties from such attacks respectively. 

The majority of civilian harm was attributed to Turkey, who was the reported perpetrator in the case of 25% (330) of civilian casualties, closely followed by Syria (324 civilian casualties). Russia caused 82 reported civilian casualties in Syria last year, and Israel 37. Unknown state actors were the reported perpetrators of 53 civilian casualties. Comparatively, in 2021, Syria caused the majority of civilian casualties, 33% (660), followed by Russia (132 civilian casualties), Turkey (118), and Israel (26). 

Of the predominant non-state armed groups active in the country, last year the Islamic State (ISIS) caused 66 civilian casualties, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) caused 43. This is a marked increase from the 16 civilian casualties of the SDF recorded in 2021, but a drop compared to the 80 civilian casualties of ISIS recorded that year. However, Syria continues to be characterised by the presence of a large number of non-state actors, with at least 17 recorded in 2021 and 24 in 2022.

As in 2021, Aleppo and Idlib were the most affected governorates in terms of civilian casualties last year, accounting for 34% (447) and 21% (279) of civilian harm respectively. 190 civilian casualties occurred in Hasakah, 115 in Daraa, and 84 in Raqqa. Aleppo and Idlib have consistently been two of the five most dangerous governorates for civilians in Syria since 2012.  

The continuing downward trend in numbers of civilian casualties in Syria raises hopes that the conflict, which only shows signs of becoming increasingly tense and contentious, will have a reduced impact on civilians, but it is likely that AOAV’s data is influenced by the decreased media and reporting interest around the Syrian conflict.

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