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Syria civil war deaths top 160,000, opposition group says

By Faith Karimi and Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
May 20, 2014 -- Updated 1019 GMT (1819 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The dead include 8,607 children, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
  • Total number includes civilians, military members, defected soldiers and foreign fighters
  • Syria's presidential election is scheduled for next month

(CNN) -- The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.

The dead include 8,607 children, according to the the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said the total numbers included civilians, military members, defected soldiers and foreign fighters, among others.

United Nations officials said they stopped updating their death toll in July because of lack of access and the inability to verify information from sources.

At the time, it said that well over 100,000 people, including many civilians, have been killed in the war pitting government forces against rebels seeking to end the rule of President Bashar al- Assad.

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The political uprising against al-Assad's regime started with mostly peaceful protests in Daraa province in March 2011.

Syria responded with a ferocious crackdown against demonstrators and has consistently said it is battling armed terrorist groups as it targeted anti-government protesters.

Al-Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than four decades, succeeded his father in 2000 and won a second term in 2007.

Syria's next presidential election is scheduled for next month, and al-Assad has registered to run again.

The United Nations has asked his government to reconsider the election as the carnage mounts daily.

So far, attempts to stop the fighting between government forces and rebels seeking al-Assad's ouster have failed.

READ: Death and desecration in Syria: Jihadist group 'crucifies' bodies to send message

READ: 25 children killed in elementary school bombing, Syrian activists say

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