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A look at the missing in Middle East’s conflicts

April 11, 2014

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese families have long sought to know the fates of the missing from the country’s civil war and post-war years, and now the civil war in Syria is adding yet another generation to the long rolls of missing from the Middle East’s conflicts. Here is a look at the numbers from several countries in the region.


There has been no serious state-led effort in Lebanon to register the numbers of dead, injured, missing in the country’s 1975-90 civil war and the three-decade Syrian domination of the country that followed. The International Center for Transitional Justice estimated in a recent report that at the end of the war in 1990 more than 17,000 were presumed to be missing. A government committee probing the disappearances said some 2,000 were reported vanished by relatives during an effort to register the missing at police stations. Estimates of those believed to have been imprisoned in Syria range between 300 and 600, Lebanese rights groups say.


The numbers remain sketchy at a time of chaos, and human rights monitors inside Syria have offered separate estimates ranging from about 10,000 to as many as 120,000 disappeared. International groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, say tens of thousands of Syrians are held under conditions amounting to enforced disappearance.

The practice precedes Syria’s current conflict. Thousands of Syrians have gone missing in crackdowns by Bashar Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez, during the 1970s and 1980s.


In Iraq, nearly 70,000 are still missing from the country’s three wars in the past three decades, according to government figures. At least 52,000 Iraqi soldiers are still missing from the country’s devastating 8-year war with Iran in the 1980s. An estimated 11,000 Iranian soldiers have also not been accounted for in that war. Since the 1991 Gulf War that followed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, 1,100 Iraqis have been missing, and 15,000 people have disappeared in sectarian bloodletting that was unleashed by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

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