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The Syrian opposition says 5,000 have been killed during a nine-month crackdown, with more than 250 civilians killed in two last days alone, calling for UN protection from “acts of genocide.” But researchers say the information is tough to verify.

RT spoke with Julie Levesque from the Centre for Research on Globalization, who says the most significant problem with the figures from Syria is that, simply, “we do not know where they come from.”

“I’ve discovered that it mostly comes from one group, which is a local coordination committee in Syria. We do not know who these people are,” she said.

“We do not know who has been killed, and we do not know who has killed them. There are 17,000 armed men, according to a report from the Institute for Strategic Studies, which is based in London,” the researcher further explained.

Levesque also said that verification is difficult because the opposition does not provide names to support their claims, and even the UN admits the information is hard to vouch for.

“All we hear is that government forces are cracking down on peaceful protesters. And if there are 17 thousand armed men among the protesters, they are no longer peaceful protests.”

Syrian authorities also claim over 2,000 troops have been killed since uprisings began in mid-March. But, Levesque says, authorities have provided a list of names of those killed.

Originally aired on RT, December 22, 2011