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Wednesday, July 26, 2006 

Lebanon body count - how do we get the details

All of the Lebanon body count figures come from a range of sources. But how do we know who is a civilian or Hizbollah fighter?

The figures come from international observers - Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, the UN, as well as hospitals, doctors in the field, journalists and the government.

Hizbollah rarely supply casualty figures. So how do we know the number of civilian vs Hizbollah deaths.

When journalists and investigators find a body they have to decide whether a dead person is a fighter or a civilian. Sometimes that's easy - a woman with suitcases and three kids in a car driving away from the troubled area are almost certainly civilian deaths.

Hizbollah have said they are not scared of admitting the number of fighters killed - in fact it suits them to inflate the proportion of fighters killed, to show it's them . At the start of the attacks, nearly every person killed was a civilian - now, the proportion of fighters has gone up.

Thanks to Amwreck for his useful question, and for everyone who's been participating in the lively comments section. I think 'lively' is the polite way of describing it.

Syria Welcomes Lebanese Refugees

July 26, 2006 10:13 a.m. EST

Jacob Cherian - All Headline News Staff Writer
Damascus, Syria (AHN) - Damascus is opening its doors to war-affected refugees from Lebanon. Though the city is usually crowded in normal circumstances, the influx of refugees have caused the streets of Damascus to be flooded with vehicles, many of them carrying Lebanese license plates - an indication of a mass exodus to Syria from Lebanon.

However, there is no evidence of a crisis. Towards the evening, sidewalks are filled with people, refugees mixing freely with Syrians.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Lebanon was a hot topic of discussion on the streets. Most people express strong disapproval of America's position of opposing a ceasefire.

Additionally, Ms. Rice's policy of including Israel and excluding Syria on her itinerary to West Asia also fell under heavy criticism among the locals.

Furthermore, the popularity of Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah appears to have surged.

Rear screens of many cars carry the picture of the cleric standing alongside Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

An unidentified diplomat acknowledged that the "extraordinary welcome" that the Lebanese refugees have received has been "quite extraordinary." He added that it could very well change negative perceptions about Syria among the Lebanese elite.

"Sometimes that's easy - a woman with suitcases and three kids in a car driving away from the troubled area are almost certainly civilian deaths."

Is there an actual account of this or was this just an example of how it might be determined. I agree that this particular situation would generally indicate that they were civilians. I would just like to know if this was a real occurrence.

Forgot to sign the last post. It's me, amwreck.


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