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Human-Rights Group: 21,452 Civilians Killed in Aleppo Fighting

A human-rights watchdog said that after 1,612 days of conflict, tens of thousands of civilians are dead in Aleppo province — including 5,261 children.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based NGO, documented civilian casualties from the start of the revolution against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in March 2011 through Wednesday. The tally: 21,452 Syrian civilians killed in the province.

That’s roughly equivalent to the populations of Millbrae, Calif., or South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Much of the ancient city that once housed more than 2 million people has been reduced to rubble by continual pounding from airstrikes. Citizens who were able to flee to Idlib province likely face more war as Assad goes after the opposition there next.

The Observatory reported that government forces, loyal Syrian militias, Hezbollah, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and “other gunmen of non-Syrian nationalities” now control Aleppo.

Causes of death in the province include “bombing by regime’s warplanes and the Russian warplanes, dropping barrel bombs by helicopters, the shelling by the regime forces, regime’s snipers and militiamen loyal to them, regime’s security detentions, bombing by warplanes of the International Coalition, bullets, shells and hands of the factions of the Syria Democratic Forces, and at the Islamic State’s hands, planted mines, shells and bullets, and bullets of the Turkish border guards, and other conditions.”

State Department press secretary John Kirby on Wednesday said people need to pay attention to the “broad swath of coverage about what’s going on in Syria” as photos emerge of celebrations among pro-Assad factions in the city along with the images of the death, destruction and suffering.

“[If] you’re trying to imply to that what’s going on in Aleppo is nothing more than a liberation festival or a parade of proud happy people that they’re being liberated, I think that is ludicrous and I think it is not backed up by any stretch of normal, independent reporting that we’ve seen coming out of there,” Kirby said at the daily press briefing.

“Now, I’m not going to debate each and every account with you. I’m not going to get into an argument about each and every story that’s been filed. But I think the travesty that has become Aleppo is clearly and should be squarely put on the regime’s doorstep as well as their backers in Russia and Iran.”