SYRIA DEATH TOLL TOPS 100,000

More than 100,000 people have been killed
in Syria’s two-and-a-half-year old civil war,
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-
moon announced Thursday.
In addition, the secretary-general noted
that millions have been displaced inside
Syria and have sought refuge in
neighboring countries. U.N. figures from
May of this year cited more than 1.5
million people who had left Syria for other
countries, while 4 million were displaced
within their home country. Actual numbers
are assumed to be much higher, as the
count includes registered persons only. The
new death toll is considered a conservative
estimate as well.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned
in a Thursday meeting with Ban and other
U.N. officials, as well as members of the
Syrian opposition, that “there is no military
solution to Syria.”
“There is only a political solution and that
will require leadership in order to bring
people to the table,” Kerry said before
meeting with the secretary-general at the
U.N. Thursday.
Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov, have committed to
using their influence to bring the Syrian
rebel coalition leaders and members of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s
administration to the table for negotiations
in Geneva. Russia is the embattled Syrian
leader’s strongest remaining political ally,
and has propped up the administration at
critical junctures with support in the form
of weaponry.
‘[It is] imperative to have a peace
conference in Geneva as soon as possible,”
Ban said. Kerry cited a Wednesday
conversation with Lavrov and told reporters
they remain committed to doing so, and
“will try our hardest to make that happen
as soon as is possible.”
The conference aims to flesh out a plan for
a transitional government, as discussed in
Geneva during a conference last year.
President Obama’s decision to provide
unspecified military support to the Syrian
rebel forces, thought to include small arms
and ammunition, met resistance in
Congress after it was announced on June
13. Obama said he acted in response to
evidence showing Assad had used chemical
weapons against his own people –
previously delineated as a “red line” by
Obama.