07/26/2013, 00.00
SYRIA
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As UN reports more than 100,000 dead in Syria's civil war, opposition remains divided between Islamists and secularist

Nearly two-thirds of the dead are civilians. Since the beginning of Ramadan, the month of peace, more than 2,000 people have been killed. The Free Syrian Army, which wants a secular and democratic future for Syria, is fighting with Islamist insurgents, who want a future dominated by Sharia. Prospects for a peace conference remain dim.

New York City (AsiaNews) - More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict in Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said as he called for an international peace conference. The figures is unofficial though because both sides usually do not release their casualty numbers.

UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that since the start on 10 July of Ramadan, a month of prayer, fasting and peace, more than 2,000 people have been killed. Most of them are combatants, but 639 are civilians, including 105 children and 99 women.

The idea of ​​a peace conference, backed mainly supported by the UN and the Vatican, is the only way to end the conflict. However, both the United States and Russia are dragging their feet in the matter because they cannot agree on who should participate (including Iran and Assad himself).

The parties to the civil war are also causing delays. As it gains ground in the fighting, the Assad regime appears bent on capturing the city of Homs, a Sunni stronghold, before coming to the meeting.

For its part, the opposition is delaying because it is divided over who should represent it, members of the secular Free Syrian Army (FSA), or people from Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda.

In recent weeks, radical Muslim groups have murdered some leaders in the FSA, which is fighting for a secular regime and wants Western support. Conversely, Jihadists want to destroy any secular system, including the current ruling Baa'thist regime, in order to impose Islamic law.

Divisions within the opposition, and the fear of a strong Islamist wing, are also cooling any enthusiasm there might have been in the West for a 'Libyan' approach to the Syrian crisis (i.e. the creation of a 'humanitarian corridor', direct targeting of Assad's forces and safe havens for refugees and rebel fighters)

In fact, at a time when many Western powers are in an economic crisis, a 'Libyan' solution would come with a price tag of billions of dollar per week and would amount to a virtual declaration of war.

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