'Over 23,000 killed in Syria so far'

Toll includes those fighting the Assad regime

More than 23,000 people have been killed in violence in Syria since the outbreak of a revolt in March last year, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.

"As of August 13, 23,002 people were killed, including 16,142 civilians, 1,018 defectors and 5,842 soldiers," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, adding that 2,409 people have been killed in the past 13 days alone.

The civilian toll includes those who have taken up arms against the regime.

The conflict became even bloodier after fierce fighting erupted in Damascus and Syria's second city of Aleppo in July.

"The total count does not include the shabiha (pro-government militiamen), thousands of detainees whose fate is unknown, or those who have been killed but whose identities have not been verified," Abdel Rahman added.

It is impossible to independently verify death counts out of Syria, and the UN has stopped keeping its own toll.

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