Syria Death Toll Rises to 162,000

A damaged building is pictured at a site in al-Katerji district in Aleppo

BEIRUT (Reuters) – At least 162,000 people have been killed in Syria’s three-year-old conflict, a monitoring group said on Monday, and thousands more are missing after being captured by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rebels trying to overthrow him.

ANALYSIS: Assad Early Frontrunner in Syrian Presidential Race

Syran President Bashar al-Assad meets with then-Senator John Kerry in 2010. (AP)

Earlier this week, embattled incumbent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad announced that he will seek a third term in national elections scheduled for June.

It should be one of the more contentious races of the 2014 cycle. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Assad remains “an extremely polarizing figure: His supporters laud his as the man who saved the nation from terrorism and rule by Islamic zealots. Critics call him a despot who led his county to ruin.”

But according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis, Assad is the early frontrunner. Here’s a look at some of the key factors that could boost Assad’s reelection bid:

Air Strike On Aleppo School Kills 18

Rescuers watch an excavator operating at Ain Jalout school that was hit by what activists said was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo's al-Ansari al-Sharqi neighbourhood

BEIRUT (Reuters) – An air strike on a school in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces killed at least 18 people on Wednesday, mainly children, a day after attacks on government-controlled cities killed more than 100 people, activists said.