Syrian soldiers
Syrian soldiersAFP photo

More than 130,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria nearly three years ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday, according to AFP.

In a new tally, the group said 130,433 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011, among them 46,266 civilians.

They include more than 7,000 children and more than 4,600 women, the Britain-based watchdog said.

The group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground in Syria, said 52,290 pro-government fighters had been killed, among them more than 32,000 regular troops and 262 reinforcements from the Hezbollah terror group.

On the rebel side, the group counted 29,083 deaths, including 6,913 fighters from jihadist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The Observatory said it had also recorded the deaths of 2,794 unidentified individuals.

The Syrian civil war began with peaceful anti-government demonstrations and deteriorated into a full blown civil war as President Bashar Al-Assad cracked down on the protesters.

Things became more complicated in Syria when jihadist rebel groups, some of which pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, joined the fighting.

A 13-member Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria at one point split off from the Western-backed Syrian National Council opposition force and declared Aleppo to be an independent Islamist state.

Since that time, a second civil war has begun in war-ravaged Syria and now, in addition to fighting the Syrian army, the more moderate rebel groups and the Islamist extremist groups are also fighting each other.

Making matters more complicated is the fact that there have also been numerous clashes between rebel groups and Kurdish militias in the north of the country. 

The West is trying to bring calm in the war-torn country by organizing a peace conference attended by Assad's regime and opposition forces. The conference is scheduled to be held on January 22 in Geneva.

The Syrian National Committee (SNC) has agreed to attend the Geneva talks, but stipulated that Assad could not have any future role in Syria's transitional period.

The more extreme Islamist groups fighting to topple Assad have declared that attending peace talks or negotiating with the regime would be an act of betrayal.