The death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has exceeded 160,000 and no end is in sight, an activist group said Monday, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it has documented 162,402 deaths since the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad’s government began in March 2011.
The figure includes civilians, rebels and members of the Syrian military, the Observatory said.
It also includes militiamen, such as Lebanese Hezbollah members, who have been fighting alongside Assad’s forces, and foreign fighters battling with the rebels for Assad’s ouster, according to AP.
The Observatory remains the sole organization providing a reliable tally of Syria’s dead, after the UN stopped updating its own tally of the Syrian dead, saying it can no longer verify the sources of information.
The Observatory bases its tally on information it gets from a network of activists on the ground in Syria. The figures are based on the names of those killed, collected by activists who document the dead in hospitals, morgues and identify them from video materials.
The updated tally comes a month and a half after the Observatory said that the death toll had topped 150,000.
As the civil war continues, Syria is preparing for a presidential election to take place in June.
Campaigning for the June 3 election began last week. Assad, who is competing for his third seven-year term, will face Hassan bin Abdullah al-Nouri, a 54-year-old lawmaker from Damascus, and 43-year-old Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, a lawmaker from the northern city of Aleppo.
Opposition activists and Western countries have condemned the elections as a sham as voting is expected to be held only in government-controlled territory.
Assad has dismissed the claims, saying, “The Syrian presidency... maintains an equal distance from all candidates in order that Syrians can choose their... president freely and transparently.”