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Nearly 1,900 killed during peace talks

Fighting in Syria killed nearly 1,900 people, including at least 430 civilians, during the week of U.N.-hosted peace talks in Switzerland, activists said Friday. The death toll indicates that violence barely paused as the warring parties met but struck uncompromising stances, failing to reach any agreements that could help resolve the conflict.

The figures were reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Its director, Rami Abdurrahman, said the week's bloody toll was about average at this point in the three-year conflict.

The number included at least 430 civilians, killed by bombs, snipers, missiles, and other causes. The rest were rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. The Observatory obtains its information from activists on the ground, and also keeps a running total.

The conference didn't produce any tangible results, although connections made in Switzerland are likely to develop into prolonged negotiations to try to resolve the war.

The conflict began as largely peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011, but the uprising since became an increasingly sectarian civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people. It has forcibly displaced one-third of the entire prewar population of 23 million, including over 2 million who have flooded into neighbouring countries. Tens of thousands more are blockaded in rebel-held areas, where Assad loyalists prevent food and aid from entering to break their resistance.

Among the most active of the rebel groups are hard-line Sunnis linked with al-Qaida, some of whom are blamed for atrocities targeting minorities.

The violence has also crossed over into Syria's neighbour Lebanon. Shells fired by Syrian government tanks exploded in ravines and valleys of the mountainous northern province of Akkar, killing one Syrian living in Lebanon and wounding several others, a Lebanese security official said.

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