Syrian uprising death toll reaches 30,000
18-month-old civil war has indiscriminately killed unarmed men, women and children
According to a British-based Syrian monitoring group, at least 30,000 people have died in Syria's 18-month-old uprising. Even more horrific is the fact that more than half of the victims counted were killed in the past five months.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman reports that 30,716 people have been killed. The vast majority of the casualties, at least 21,534, have been civilians. A network of activists based around Syria have not divided their civilian death count between unarmed residents and those who have joined the rebels.
The pro-opposition Observatory says that 7,322 soldiers fighting for Assad were killed, while at least 1,860 army defectors have died fighting for the opposition.
"By looking through our figures, we noticed that the toll has been rising. Between 50 and 60 percent of those killed died in the past five months," Abdulrahman said.
Official figures from Syrian authorities have said that more than 2,600 members of the security forces have been killed, but have not given a casualty figure for several months.
In spite of the growing death toll, international powers are stuck in a diplomatic stalemate. Western powers and Gulf Arab states back the opposition, while Russia, China and Iran are backing Assad.
The violence rose rapidly in recent months as rebel forces spread, taking the fight across the country and into Syria's two major cities, the capital Damascus and business hub Aleppo.
Assad claims that his opponents are "terrorists" backed by foreign powers and has responded with heavy bombardment, including the use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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