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Middle East

Activist group says Syria war killed 150,000

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says figure includes civilians, rebels and members of Syrian military.

Last updated: 01 Apr 2014 19:21
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Syrian sectarian war drew fighters from abroad, supporting either side in violence claiming thousands of lives. [AP]

Death toll in the Syrian conflict has exceeded 150,000, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has documented violence on the ground since peaceful protests first broke out on March 2011 before quickly evolving into a raging war.

The activist group said on Tuesday it had documented 150,344 deaths in the conflict that started with peaceful protesters demanding the ousting of President Bashar Assad's government.

The Observatory, which compiles data from a network of informants in Syria, said the figure included civilians, rebels, and members of the Syrian military. It also entails armed men fighting alongside Assad forces and foreign fighters battling for his dismantling, on the rebels' side.

Among those tallied by the independent group is 7,985 children who were killed in the crossfire between armed rebels and army, in violence that has involved alleged chemical weapons and barrel bombs used by Assad's forces.

The SOHR said that the real toll was likely to be significantly higher at around 220,000 deaths.

In January, the UN said it had stopped updating its own tally of the Syrian dead because it could no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100,000 in late July.

Syria's three-year conflict has left at least half a million more people have been wounded, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Observatory says 17,000 people are missing and "tens of thousands" are
held in regime prisons.

As cities of the war-torn country face daily raids by Assad's forces and retaliatory attacks by armed rebels, millions of Syrians have fled their homes and sought asylum in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

According to the UN, Syrians are now identified as the world's largest refugee population, with the UN High Commissioner saying 2.6 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighbouring countries.

UN figures show that about a million of Syrian asylum seekers are in Lebanon, 588,979 are in Jordan, 667,496 in Turkey, 221,791 in Iraq and 135,000 are based in Egypt.

Calls to arm rebels to counter Assad troops attacks have been spearheaded by Saudi Arabia but have lost steam amid rocketing death tolls and strong presence of al-Qaeda-inspired groups in the country.

With the Geneva II peace talks, which brought the Syrian government and opposition for the first time since violence erupted, failing to set a start for a political solution, Syria's crisis is far from abating and setting the scene for more bloodshed.

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