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Nearly 40,000 Died in Syrian Conflict Last Year

Scott Peterson/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syria's New Year's Day brought no relief from the carnage that has engulfed the country for nearly two years.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that at least 115 people died on Tuesday as the result of the violence that began in March 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad ordered government forces to crack down on pro-democracy groups.

Since that time, the number of people killed has increased substantially month-to-month.  By the end of 2011, the death toll was at around 6,500.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that 39,500 more people died in 2012 in the fighting.

A separate report from the United Nations released Wednesday says nearly 60,000 have been killed in Syria between March 2011 and November 2012.

“The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

United Nation-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who has been assigned by the world community to seek a resolution to the crisis, is not upbeat about the chances of any quick end to the civil war.

Barahimi said this past week, "Do not expect just 25,000 people to die next year -- maybe 100,000 will die.  The pace is increasing."

The humanitarian crisis in Syria is also exploding with 500,000 people having left the country and another half-million refugees expected during the first six months of this year if the government and rebels don't call for a ceasefire with substance.

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