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Why March was Syria's bloodiest month yet
Some 6,000 people died in Syria's civil war in March, according to a human rights group
 
A Syrian child, injured by heavy bombing from military warplanes, March 1.
A Syrian child, injured by heavy bombing from military warplanes, March 1. AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC

More than 6,000 people were killed in Syria's civil war in March, including at least 2,080 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K. activist group. That makes March the bloodiest month in the history of the two-year conflict, surpassing August 2012 when 5,400 people died. A look at the ever-worsening situation in Syria:

Why was March so violent?
Fighting has intensified in new parts of the country, most notably in the southern province of Daraa. On March 23, rebels captured an air base there after two weeks of violent clashes, reports the AFP. Daraa's location on the road between Jordan's capital, Amman, and Damascus has made it a key target for rebels.

"Syria is no longer going through a crisis," Daraa MP Walid al-Zohbi told parliament last week. "It is plunged in total war."

Meanwhile, fighting has remained strong between pro-regime forces and rebels in Damascus, the northern city of Aleppo, and the central city of Homs, according to The Guardian.

Is the Syrian Observatory's death toll accurate?
Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says the number is almost certainly higher, according to Reuters. Getting accurate casualty numbers in Syria is difficult because the government does not release them and is hostile to journalists who might report them. Syria's rebels don't make it much easier either. "Both sides are hiding information," Abdul-Rahman told the CBC. "It is very difficult to get correct info on the fighters because they don't want the information to hurt morale." The Syrian Observatory openly opposes President Bashar al-Assad, but nevertheless records deaths on both sides of the conflict.

Among the dead are also those reporting the news of the war. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 journalists were "killed in combat or targeted for murder by government or opposition forces" in 2012, the most of any country in the world.

How many people have died in the conflict so far?
The official count by the United Nations is more than 70,000. Abdul-Rahman tells Reuters his group has officially counted 62,554 dead, but, after more of the casualty reports have been confirmed, the number could be "around 120,000 people."

Is there an end to the war in sight?
Not likely. According to the BBC, Syria's government "now routinely insists it is fighting against 'armed terrorist gangs'" and that it's receiving military and financial support from Iran and Russia. 

Walid Saffour, the Syrian opposition's official envoy in London, has called the United States' refusal to get more involved "humiliating to the Syrian people." He has praised the U.K. for encouraging the E.U. to lift its arms embargo, but, as the The Telegraph notes, "British and American public positions towards Syria have remained broadly similar, with neither advocating 'boots on the ground' intervention and both sharing a concern about weaponry falling into the hands of anti-western jihadist groups." 

 
Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

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