Doctors treat wounded Syrian
Doctors treat a wounded man near Damascus on March 13, 2013. Photo by AP
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Reuters
Man prays at a grave in Syria, March 30, 2013. Photo by Reuters

More than 6,000 people were killed in the Syrian civil war in March alone, according to a leading activist group that reported it was the deadliest month yet in the 2-year-old conflict.

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an increase in shelling and clashes around the country led to the high toll, which is incomplete because fighters on both sides tend to underreport their dead.

"Both sides are hiding information," Rami Abdul-Rahman said by phone from Britain, where he is based. "It is very difficult to get correct info on the fighters because they don't want the information to hurt morale."

The increase also likely represents the further spread of the civil war throughout the country.

Clashes continue to rage in the northern city of Aleppo and around the capital Damascus as well as in the central city of Homs.

And in recent weeks, rebels in the southern province of Daraa along the Jordanian border have seized towns and military bases from the government with the help of an increased influx of foreign-funded weapons.

In a bid to help Jordan handle the massive influx of Syrian refugees streaming across its border, Canada's top diplomat has pledged a donation of some $13 million to tackle the pressing humanitarian and security needs the two-year-civil war has created.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird praised Jordan's humanitarian assistance and medical care to the more than 470,000 displaced Syrians sheltering in the kingdom, calling it a "model for all."

After talks with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, and King Abdullah II on Sunday in Amman, Baird urged the international community to "intensify" efforts to help the cash-strapped kingdom bear the humanitarian load. Abdullah called for a political solution to end Syria's conflict and preserve its unity.

The Observatory, which opposed President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, said the March dead included 298 children, 291 women, 1,486 rebel fighters and army defectors and 1,464 government soldiers. The rest were unidentified civilians and fighters.

The government does not provide death tolls for the civil war.

He said his total death toll for the conflict through the end of March is 62,554, a number he said he guessed only reflected about half of the actual dead.

That toll solidly beat the second most deadly month, when airstrikes, clashes and shelling killed more than 5,400 people in August 2012, Abdul-Rahman said.

He said many deaths go unreported by the government or rebel fighters and that there are tens of thousands detained in regime and rebel prisons whose fates are not known.

The United Nations said in February that 70,000 people had been killed since the start of the conflict. It has not updated its number since.