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Death Toll Rises In Syria, Adding To U.N. Estimate Of 5,000 Killed So Far

One day after the United Nations said that more than 5,000 people have died in nine months of protests and clashes against the Syrian government, the AP quotes activists saying that at least 28 more people died Tuesday at the hands of Syrian security forces.

Fighting between the government and the opposition was heaviest along the country's northwestern border with Turkey.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, warned the U.N. Security council yesterday that the city of Homs — already the scene of many clashes — may be facing a large assault by the government. She said "the prospect of such an attack is extremely alarming" and then went on to say the number of deaths in the Syrian uprising so far "probably exceeds 5,000," including over 300 children. Pillay based her number on reports from sources the U.N. deems credible.

The BBC notes the Syrian government has said at least 1,000 members of its police and armed forces have also died in the uprising.

The BBC also quotes Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying that opposition forces in Syria were trying "to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe" in the country in an effort to pull outside powers into the conflict. Lavrov called the failure of the international community to try and put the brakes on the opposition "immoral."

In other developments, a well-known blogger was charged yesterday with undermining the Syrian government. The AP reports:

"In Damascus, a prominent U.S.-born Syrian blogger and press freedom campaigner was charged Monday by Syrian authorities with trying to incite sectarian strife, her organization said."

"The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression in the Arab World said Tuesday that Razan Ghazzawi also was charged with spreading false information and weakening national sentiment a charge often leveled against those who challenge the Syrian regime."

"The charges could carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years. The statement issued Tuesday by the SCM, where Ghazzawi worked, said she denied the charges."

"She was arrested Dec. 4 at the border while on her way to Jordan for a conference on press freedom."

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