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Middle East

93,000 killed in Syrian civil war since March 2011, says UN

Among the victims were 6,561 children 1,700 of them under ten years old

The United Nations has said that 93,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in Syria.

The number represents a rise of more than 30,000 on figures issued covering the period to November 2012.

Navi Pillay, of the UN human rights office, said that 92,901 people were killed in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2013.

The actual number is expected to be considerably higher due to unreported deaths.

The UN's human rights body also says at least 5,000 people have been dying every month since last July.

The last such analysis, in January, had documented nearly 60,000 killings through to the end of November.

The latest figures add more killings to that time period, plus some 27,000 more between December and April.

"The constant flow of killings continues at shockingly high levels, with more than 5,000 killings documented every month since last July," said Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights.

"This is most likely a minimum casualty figure. The true number of those killed is potentially much higher."

According to the data 80% of those killed were men and 1,700 children under the age of 10 have died in the conflict. Among the victims were at least 6,561 children in total.

"There are also well-documented cases of individual children being tortured and executed, and entire families including babies being massacred — which, along with this devastatingly high death toll, is a terrible reminder of just how vicious this conflict has become," Pillay said.

"This extremely high rate of killings, month after month, reflects the drastically deteriorating pattern of the conflict over the past year," she added.

A separate report published yesterday by the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict described the number of deaths among Syrian children "unbearable".

The report claimed that both sides in the conflict were children as "suicide bombers or human shields".

UN special representative Leila Zerrougui said Syrian children were bearing the 'heaviest toll' of anywhere in the world.

"They are killed, they are maimed, they are recruited, they are detained, they are tortured", she told journalists in New York.

Today's analysis, which was commissioned by the UN from San Francisco-based nonprofit Human Rights Data Analysis Group, was drawn from eight data sets where 263,000 reported killings were studied for the analysis that the UN.

Those lacking a name, date and location of death were excluded, and some duplicates were found.

Since the start of the peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, which turned into an armed rebellion and then morphed into civil war, the average monthly number of documented killings has risen from around 1,000 per month in the summer of 2011 to an average of more than 5,000 per month since last July.

At its height from July to October 2012, the number of killings rose above 6,000 per month.

"Civilians are bearing the brunt of widespread, violent and often indiscriminate attacks which are devastating whole swaths of major towns and cities, as well as outlying villages," Pillay said.

"Government forces are shelling and launching aerial attacks on urban areas day in and day out, and are also using strategic missiles and cluster and thermobaric bombs. Opposition forces have also shelled residential areas, albeit using less fire-power, and there have been multiple bombings resulting in casualties in the heart of cities, especially Damascus."

The vast majority of the victims are male, but three-quarters of the reported killings do not indicate a person's age, and the analysis could not differentiate between fighters and non-combatants.