According to figures released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights this year's annual death toll is the lowest in the country's close to eight-year civil war but the misery persists for its people as the conflict continues.

Among those killed in 2018 were 6,349 civilians, 1,437 of them children, Observatory chief Abdel Rahman said.
Among those killed in 2018 were 6,349 civilians, 1,437 of them children, Observatory chief Abdel Rahman said. (AFP)

Syria sees another deadly year with 19,666 people killed including 6,349 civilians, 1,437 of them children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Monday.

"2018 was the lowest annual toll since the start of the conflict," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The death toll for 2017 stood at more than 33,000 and the highest annual figure was reached in 2014 – the year that Daesh proclaimed a so-called "caliphate" over large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq – when 76,000 people were killed.

More Syrians will return home – Turkish official

More Syrians are expected to return to their homeland following Turkey’s counter-terror operations in Syria, Turkey’s Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Catakli said on Monday.

"We think that the number will increase even more in the upcoming period in parallel with the development there [Syria]," Catakli told Anadolu Agency.

He said living conditions have been getting better and security has increased in the region especially after two Turkish anti-terror operations, Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield.

Turkey has conducted two successful cross-border operations into Syria since 2016, both meant to eradicate the presence of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.

In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children. The PYD is its Syrian branch.

Catakli added that over 290,000 Syrians have returned home after Turkish military-led operations in Syria.

Turkey's immigration authority carries out activities for Syrians, he said.

Catakli added: "I think [the number of] returnees will increase more when the situation improves there.”

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on protesters with unexpected ferocity.

Source: AFP