Rapid Response on Deaths in Syria published in BMJ

Jay Aronson, along with colleagues from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group and the Carter Center, published a rapid response critique of Guha Sapir et al’s British Medical Journal research article on “Civilian deaths from weapons used in the Syria conflict. We express three concerns about the article:

First, the article apportions responsibility for casualties to particular perpetrator organizations based on a single snapshot of territorial control that ignores the numerous (and well-documented) changes in this phenomenon over time. Second, combining Syrian Opposition Groups and Islamic State groups into one category (non-state armed groups; NSAG) obscures the fact that these groups are actively fighting each other. Finally, our work with Syrian human rights groups has taught us that their ability to document the conflict varies as a function of which armed groups are in control of each region. Therefore, the very high rate of missing data is likely to result in distorted patterns in the observed data.

Read more, along with the authors’ rejoinder, here. (http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4736/rapid-responses)