Cost of Syria war destruction almost $400 billion: UN
Seven years of relentless conflict in Syria have wreaked destruction that the United Nations said Wednesday had cost the country close to $400 billion.
The figure was released after a two-day meeting of more than 50 Syrian and international experts in neighbouring Lebanon, hosted by the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
ESCWA said the "volume of destruction in physical capital and its sectoral distribution" had been estimated at more than $388 billion.
It said the figure did not include "human losses resulting from deaths or the loss of human competences and skilled labour due to displacement, which were considered the most important enablers of the Syrian economy".
Comment: Selling a phoney peace in Syria
More than half of Syria's pre-war population has fled the country or been displaced internally over the past seven years.
Russia's 2015 military intervention helped a recovery by regime forces, which have regained significant ground in recent months.
Jihadist and rebel forces remain in some pockets, but with the military balance in the regime's favour, regime efforts have already been shifting toward reconstruction.
ESCWA said a full report on the impact of the war was due out in September and that the updated estimates reached this week would help inform ongoing discussions on post-conflict Syria.
The Syrian war began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent assessments, brutal tactics pursued mainly by the Russian-backed regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians, amount to war crimes.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, while 6.3 million Syrians have been forced to flee the country. A further 6.2 million are internally displaced.