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The Sassy Lass Dukes It Out With the Internet One on One

The Sassy Lass Dukes It Out With the Internet One on One

Q: "Given the number of bombings in the Middle East, how long would it take for Syria to be depopulated as a result of ISIS suicide attacks and outmigration?"


How goes it, folks? This is The Sassy Lass, your friendly neighborhood brainiac. I’m here to answer – or at least try to answer – your most curious, strange and uninhibited questions.

Q: Given the number of bombings in the Middle East, how long would it take for Syria to be depopulated as a result of ISIS suicide attacks and outmigration?

A: Yowza! Right out of the gate and I’m faced with a heavy one. Well, let’s give it a shot, shall we?

The 2011 Arab Spring uprising against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad eventually transformed into a full-scale civil war that has ravaged the nation. On Feb. 1, the United Nations announced the Geneva Syria peace talks, organized in the hope that the international community might come together to find solutions.

Later in the month, “The Guardian” published bleak news on casualties of the Syrian Civil War. “Confronting Fragmentation,” a report produced by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR), indicates that 470,000 people have died since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. Eighty-five percent of those deaths were a direct result of violent acts.

That’s almost twice the figure of 250,000 reported by the UN, which stopped collecting data about a year and a half ago. It is an underestimation that SCPR report author Rabie Nasser attributes not to malice, but a lack of information access in a crisis-addled country.

The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, created by the University of Chicago, is the home of the Suicide Attack Database. Try not to think about how depressing it is that such a thing is a necessity.

According to the Database, the most common weapon used in Syria’s suicide attacks is the belt bomb. Imagine transforming your handy uncle’s reinforced framer’s rig – that tool belt with suspenders – into an over-the-shoulder explosive holster, and you’ve got some idea of what the average belt bomb resembles.

In Syria, almost 82 percent of suicide attacks are carried out by someone outfitted in a belt bomb; its lethality is 80 percent. Sadly, most of us are aware of how these work: person suits up with explosives and detonator hidden under clothes, walks into a heavily populated area, and takes their own life as well as the lives of multiple people nearby. Those not killed suffer debilitating injuries.

At the time of this writing, CountryMeters.info estimates Syria’s population to be at 23,270,371, with the majority of the citizenry being between 15 and 64 years of age. Over the course of 50 years (1961-2010), Syria’s average annual population growth was 3.1314 percent.

That number plummeted between 2011 and 2015, with the average population growth percentage being just 1.122 percent. According to CountryMeter’s estimations, there will be a daily population increase in Syria of just 581 people this year – a number that is based on an estimated number of births, deaths and emigration. Yet last year alone, 84,708 Syrians died, and the population of Syria declined by 257,346 as a result of emigration.

With all of this data in mind, how can we accurately calculate the amount of time it would take to eliminate the entire population of Syria? Given the wide discrepancy of reported casualties, it seems difficult to determine. Data sources are all over the road, and citizens are evacuating each year by the thousands. Perhaps instead of asking how long it might take to erase the denizens of an entire country, we should continue to focus on how to provide health, aid, and stability to those who are still alive.

Got a Q? She might have an A! Send your questions to thesassylass@freeabq.com today. Your question could be next!

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M. Brianna Stallings makes words work.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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