DAMASCUS, Syria - The number of dead in Syria's civil war has passed 100,000, the U.N. chief said Thursday, calling for urgent talks on ending two years of violence even as President Bashar Assad's government blasted the United States as an unsuitable peace broker.
In the latest example of the relentless carnage, a car bomb killed at least 10 people and wounded 66 in a pro-regime residential area near the capital.
All international attempts to broker a political solution to the Syrian civil war have failed. Despite a stalemate that has settled in for months, both sides still believe they can win and have placed impossible conditions for negotiations.
The international community has been unable - some say unwilling - to intervene sufficiently to tip the balance in favor of either the Assad regime or the rebels.
"There is no military solution to Syria," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters at the United Nations. "There is only a political solution, and that will require leadership in order to bring people to the table," he said.
He spoke ahead of talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said the death toll had risen from nearly 93,000 just over a month ago to more than 100,000. Syrian opposition groups had made that same estimate a month ago.
The uprising against Assad's rule began in March 2011 and deteriorated into an insurgency with growing sectarian overtones.
Ban called on the Syrian government and opposition to halt the violence, saying it is "imperative to have a peace conference in Geneva as soon as possible."
The U.S. and Russia are working to convene a conference, along with the United Nations, to try to agree on a transitional government based on a plan adopted in Geneva a year ago.
No official date has been set because the opposition refuses to attend any talks that are not about Assad's departure. Syrian government officials say participation in the conference should be without preconditions but add that Assad's departure before his term expires in 2014 is not negotiable. Assad has also said he has the right to run for office again.