Syrian war's death toll more than 100,000

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BEIRUT -- Syria's civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, a grim new estimate released yesterday that comes when the conflict is spreading beyond its borders and hopes are fading for a settlement to end the bloodshed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been tracking the death toll through a network of activists in the country, said most of the 100,191 killed in the past 27 months were combatants.

The regime losses were estimated at nearly 43,000, including pro-government militias and 169 fighters from the Lebanese Shia Hezbollah group -- a recent entrant in the conflict.

The Observatory said 36,661 of the dead are civilians. Recorded deaths among the rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad reached more than 18,000, including 2,518 foreign fighters.

The United Nations recently estimated that 93,000 people were killed between March 2011, when the crisis started, and the end of April 2013, concurring with Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman that the actual toll is likely much higher.

Abdul-Rahman said that the group's tally of military deaths is based on information from medical sources, records obtained by the group from state agencies and activists' own count of funerals in government-held areas. Other sources are the activist videos showing soldiers who were killed in rebel areas and later identified.

The new estimate comes at a time when hopes for peace talks are fading. The UN's special envoy to Syria said Tuesday an international conference proposed by Russia and the United States will not take place until later in the summer, partly because of opposition disarray.

Regime forces are pushing into rebel-held areas in an attempt to secure the seat of Assad's power in the capital of Damascus and along the Mediterranean coast. -- AP

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