Activist groups that track death tolls said that more than 5,000 people were forecast to die this month alone, substantially above the 4,000 that died in August. By contrast, the worst month in the Iraq conflict—after the initial invasion—accounted for 3,028 lives, in July 2006.
The United Nations refugee agency meanwhile predicted that up to 700,000 Syrian refugees could flee abroad by the end of the year, nearly quadrupling its previous forecast.
Lord Owen, the former foreign secretary who oversaw peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, warned on Thursday that the scale and nature of conflict would eventually demand a united response from Russia and the West.
“This is a full-scale civil war and my experience is that only an enforceable ceasefire will end it,” he said. “Time is not on our side given the ghastliness of the fighting, the number of massacres, and horrors of sectarian divisions becoming permanent facts on the ground.”
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Lord Owen today calls on NATO to use its formal ties with Russia to start talks on enforcing a no-fly zone in joint arrangement that would not target the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president escalated the “blame game” with the West, accusing the U.S. and others of sowing chaos in Syria.]
“The most important thing is that our partners cannot stop themselves,” he said. “They have already created a situation of chaos in many territories and are now continuing the same policy in other countries—including Syria.”