The Latest: UN says civil war has cost Syria $388B in damage
BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
A United Nations agency says Syria’s seven-year-long civil war has cost the country $388 billion in economic damage.
The U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) says it estimates the cost of the material destruction — damage to roads, infrastructure, homes and other physical objects — is $120 billion.
It says the cost of lost productivity — or losses to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) — is $268 billion.
The agency convened a two-day conference in Beirut on of Syrian and international experts to discuss Syria’s reconstruction on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Monitoring groups say at least 400,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war. More than 11 million others — or half of Syria’s pre-war population — have been displaced from their homes, according to the U.N., including more than 5 million who have been made refugees abroad.
President Bashar Assad’s forces continue to press their battles against rebels and Islamic State group insurgents in pockets around northwest and south Syria while refusing a U.N.-mediated political settlement to end the war.
Syrian activists say military helicopters have dropped leaflets over parts of the northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib, calling on residents to reconcile with the government.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted a copy of the leaflets. They say the Syrian war “is close to an end,” that it’s time to stop the bloodletting and that residents should join reconciliation “as our people did in other parts of Syria.”
Activists say simultaneously as the helicopters dropped leaflets on Thursday, warplanes pounded several rebel-held areas elsewhere in Idlib, which has become home to tens of thousands of internally displaced people.
Idlib is the last left major rebel-held region in Syria and there are concerns that a government offensive would displace hundreds of thousands of people inside the province bordering Turkey.