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Syria death toll at least 80,000, says U.N. General Assembly president

A view shows the damage of a house after mortar bombs landed on the Mezze area in Damascus May 12, 2013, wounding a number of citizens, state media said, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA. SANA/Handout via Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The death toll in Syria from the country’s two-year civil war is at least 80,000, an increase of about 20,000 since the start of the year, the president of the U.N. General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic, said on Wednesday.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said on January 2 that more than 60,000 people had been killed during the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which began with peaceful protests but turned violent when Assad’s forces cracked down.

“At least 80,000 have perished since the start of the hostilities, with most of those casualties believed to be civilians,” Jeremic told the 193 General Assembly members before a vote on a resolution on the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group, said on Tuesday that at least 94,000 people have been killed but the death toll is likely to be as high as 120,000.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Vicki Allen