SYRIA DEATH TOLL NOW TOPS 100,000
Beirut, June 26, 2013
More than 100,000 people have been killed since the start of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, now the longest and most violent of the recent Arab uprisings, a monitoring group said on Wednesday.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is opposed to President Bashar Al-Assad, said the figure included 18,000 rebel fighters and about 40,000 soldiers and pro-Assad militiamen. But the true number of combatants killed was likely double that due to both sides' secrecy in reporting casualties, it said.
Meanwhile, Jordan's King Abdullah said Syria's war could ignite a regional sectarian conflict unless global powers helped to convene peace talks soon, a pan-Arab newspaper reported.
King Abdullah also said Palestinians could launch an Arab Spring-style revolt if they felt prospects for a peaceful settlement of their conflict with Israel had reached a dead end, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said.
Situated near Syria and next door to Israel and the occupied West Bank, Jordan is affected by instability in the region. Jordan has taken in more than 500,000 Syrians out of a total 1.5 million who have fled the war, UN officials say.
"It has become clear to all that the Syrian crisis may extend from being a civil war to a regional and sectarian conflict...the extent of which is unknown," King Abdullah said in an interview.
"It is time for a more serious Arab and international coordination to stop the deterioration of the Syrian crisis. The situation cannot wait any longer," he added.
The Syrian civil war has increasingly turned into a sectarian conflict. The Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah announced last month it had joined fighting against Saudi-backed, Sunni-led rebels trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
US President Barack Obama last week said that Washington, keeping a wary eye on the war, has left about 700 combat-equipped troops in Jordan after a training exercise. The US had previously decided to leave Patriot missiles and warplanes there.
King Abdullah said that efforts to convene a peace conference bringing together the Syrian government and the opposition remained "the logical and ideal way" to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. - Reuters