At least 60,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said on Wednesday, citing an "exhaustive" UN-commissioned study.
Over five months of analysis, researchers cross-referenced seven sources to compile a list of 59,648 individuals reported killed between March 15, 2011, and November 30, 2012.
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"Given there has been no let-up in the conflict since the end of November, we can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013," Pillay said. "The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking."
The UN refugee agency said about 84,000 people fled Syria in December alone, bringing the total number of refugees to about a half-million. Many more are displaced inside Syria.
Among the latest deaths were a number of civilians who died when Syrian warplanes bombed a petrol station in a suburb on the eastern edge of Damascus on Wednesday.
Syria's civil war is the longest and deadliest conflict to emerge from uprisings that began sweeping the Arab world in 2011 and has developed a significant sectarian element.
UN-led diplomatic peace efforts have stumbled. Western and many Sunni Arab states demand Syrian President Bashar Assad's immediate removal, an idea resisted by Russia, China and Syria's Shia ally Iran.
AP contributed to this report
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