BEIRUT — Syrians are being killed at an average rate of 5,000 per month, the U.N. said Thursday as it raised the overall death toll in the civil war to nearly 93,000, with civilians bearing the brunt of the attacks.
The grim estimate reflects the growing sectarian nature of the bloodshed as the regime of President Bashar Assad scores a series of battlefield successes against the rebels.
The toll also is a reminder of the international community’s helplessness in the face of a conflict that has displaced several million people and spilled over into neighboring countries with alarming frequency.
Adding to the pressure for international action, the United States announced Thursday it had conclusive evidence that Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against opposition forces. The White House said multiple chemical attacks last year killed up to 150 people.
President Barack Obama has said the use of chemical weapons by the Syria regime would be a ‘‘red line’’ that would trigger greater U.S involvement in the crisis. Officials said Obama was considering both political and military options, but it was unclear how quickly new actions would be taken and what they would involve.
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