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More than 10,000 dead in Syria crackdown

The crackdown in Syria has killed 10,108 people since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime erupted last March, the head of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said today.

"10,108 people were killed -- 7,306 civilians, 2,248 members of government forces and 554 soldiers who defected from the Syrian army," Abdul Rahman told AFP.

For its part, the United Nations says that more than 9,000 people have died in the crackdown launched by the Syrian regime to crush the uprising against Assad's rule.

Meanwhile, NATO's chief said today that the alliance was opposed to providing weapons to the Syrian opposition seeking to counter a regime crackdown, warning that it would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for a diplomatic solution and reiterated that NATO, which led the Libya air war that contributed to Muammar Gaddafi's downfall last year, had "no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria."

The Syrian opposition has appealed for weapons to fight the year-long bloody crackdown on dissent, but Arab League members, the United States, France and Germany steered clear of those calls at the "Friends of Syria" meeting in Turkey yesterday.

"I don't think the right way forward would be to provide any group with weapons," Rasmussen told a news conference, voicing support for the diplomatic efforts led by UN special envoy Kofi Annan.

"There is a clear risk that the provision of arms to any group in Syria would also lead to a potentially dangerous proliferation of weapons in the region," he said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime pressed on with its deadly campaign to crush dissent today, reportedly pounding northern rebel strongholds as it brushed off the "Friends of Syria" meeting as a failure.

"We monitor the situation closely," Rasmussen said, adding that the situation in Syria could impact neighbouring Turkey, a NATO member.

"It's absolutely outrageous what we have witnessed in Syria," he added.

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