Today is Day 1,160 of the Syrian conflict.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the death toll in the conflict has risen to at least 162,000 — meaning, as The New York Times points out, that it has increased "more than 10,000 in less than two months." A lot of groups, including the UN, have stopped trying to track deaths in Syria. While on this grim subject: Opposition activists said this morning that another government chlorine bomb hit a rebel village Monday, killing a teenager.
Concern is only growing over the trend of Westerners joining the fight. British police have been investigating the death of a Brighton teenager who recently died in Syria after joining the opposition without telling his parents. The BBC reported a related raid on "several houses" in Sussex this morning. Coincidentally and unrelatedly, about the same time this morning the BBC also reported that a 31-year-old man from Portsmouth had "become the first person in the UK to be convicted of terrorist offences in connection with the conflict in Syria." He'd attended a "terrorist training camp" in Syria, and was arrested in the airport upon returning to the UK.
As previously mentioned on this blog, the UK government and the French government have both instituted new policies designed to combat the threat of citizens going to Syria to fight and coming back radicalized, as potential terrorist threats.
Closer to home (for American readers), The Daily Beast reports today that "senior American intelligence officials ... believe between six and 12 Americans who have gone to Syria to fight Assad have now returned to America." They know the location of "some," but apparently not others. The officials also told The Daily Beast that the latest estimates suggest more than 100 Americans have "joined the jihad in Syria to fight along Sunni terrorists." In other words: They've gone and joined groups like the Nusra Front or ISIL or other extremists, not the moderate rebels the US is actually working with.
As of last fall, the US estimate of the number of Americans who had joined these groups was "at least 10." To state the obvious: That's a big jump.
The conflict continues.