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Opposition presses for weapons as Syria death toll tops 100,000

Story highlights

  • The U.N.'s secretary-general calls for an end to the violence
  • U.N.: Death toll in Syria tops 100,000
  • An opposition group reports at least 50 deaths nationwide Thursday

Syria's opposition urged the United States to provide arms to rebel groups in a Thursday meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in New York City.

"The US commitment of military support ... is vital, but it needs to happen fast, and in a way that allows us to defend ourselves and protect civilians," a statement from the Syrian National Coalition. "To deny us the right to self-defense is to risk that the regime will survive: thousands will be executed, the repression will continue without end."

The session between Kerry and coalition President Ahmad Jarba came as the United Nations announced more than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. It occurred at the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a peace conference to stop the violence on both sides.

"We have to bring this to an end," Ban said in remarks before his meeting with Kerry.

In addition to the deaths, Ban noted that "millions of people have either been displaced or become refugees in neighboring countries."

A State Department official said Kerry and Jarba agreed that a "political solution is the best path forward" in the conflict.

"Secretary Kerry reiterated the ongoing commitment of the United States to helping end the bloodshed and suffering of the Syrian people," the official said.

Arms to Syria opposition still a debate in progress

The conflict

Syria is wracked by a civil war in which a government dominated by minority Alawite Muslims is squaring off with rebels dominated by Sunni Muslims.

This May, the United Nations reported that more than 1.5 million had fled for other countries because of the violence, while 4 million more had been displaced within Syria.

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Yet many remain, whether by choice or necessity, amid the bloodshed.

And -- as has happened very day for more than two years -- more of them died Thursday.

A car bombing rocked a square in Jaramana, which is about 5 kilometers southeast of Damascus, according to both opposition activists and state-run media.

The attack left 17 dead and tens more injured, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian state TV put the death toll at 10, with 70 others wounded, blaming the blast on an al Qaeda branch operating within its borders.

Jaramana has a mostly Christian and Druze population known for backing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Local Coordination Committees in Syria, a network of opposition activists, reported at least 50 died nationwide on Thursday, including 19 in Aleppo province and 18 in and around the war-torn Middle Eastern nation's capital.