Over 150,000 Refugees Flee Syria

Over 1.5 million Syrians have fled their homes as the 17-month conflict between the government troops of President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces continues. Over 21,000 people have died according to the UK-based activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Fighting in recent weeks has centered on Syria’s largest city, the commercial hub and UNESCO heritage site Aleppo. Refugees have been “streaming” out of the city, says the United Nations refugee agency. Almost 150,000 refugees have been registered in four countries neighboring Syria: 50,227 refugees are registered in Turkey, 45,869 in Jordan, 36,841 in Lebanon and 13,730 in Iraq. About 6,000 residents of Aleppo have entered Turkey just in the past week.

The number of those killed and wounded keep rising, with the activist Local Coordination Committee reporting that 83 people were killed on Friday, including 51 in Aleppo. The opposition Syrian National Council also says that shelling by Assad’s forces had ruined part of a 13th century citadel.

The Obama administration is preparing new sanctions against Assad’s inner circle as well as Iranian individuals and organization. The US Treasury has added Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militant group, to the list of countries and persons to be targeted with sanctions. The US is also expected to announce an additional $5.5 million in humanitarian aid to Syria, which will bring the amount of aid to $82 million. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has also said that the UK will give an extra $7.8 million in non-lethal equipment to the Free Syrian Army (FSA); among the equipment will be radio and satellite equipment and portable power generators.

Former Algerian foreign affairs minister Lakhdar Brahimi is the likely choice to be the special United Nations and Arab League envoy after Kofi Annan resigned from the position last week. The 78-year-old Brahimi has previously served as a UN special envoy to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein as well as in Afghanistan, before and after Taliban rule. Annan had resigned after months of deadlocked negotiations in the UN Security Council, with Russia and China consistently vetoing harsher measures against Syria including calls for Assad to step down.

A Turkish journalist reports that the number of defections from the Syrian military continue to rise with a number of officers and soldiers among those fleeing to Turkey.

As Peter Beaumont, foreign affiairs editor of the Observer, writes in the Guardian, while “the Free Syrian Army or its allies, some of them jihadi groups, have committed war crimes and serious human rights abuses,” condemnation of these has been far less vocal. The Assad regime is certainly responsible for atrocious war crimes including the murder of unarmed protesters and the torture of minors but “as organisations including both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have made clear…. there is no excusing war crimes, whomever commits them.”

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Photo by FreedomHouse

16 comments

Huda G.
Huda G.4 years ago

I really feel for the people of Syria! They have suffered so much, for such a long period of time. To really understand a problem of a country you need to come from that country. I know there are people who support Assad, despite what he is doing! I have Syrian friends they explained to me that all security and "normal" life has gone in Syria, they just want peace and stability, so they support Assad, NOT because they believe what he is doing is right! But because they want to be able to buy food for their kids, go to sleep at night etc. All things we take for granted!! I have other friends that support the freedom fighters, because they feel enough is enough so many people have been killed, so many lives destroyed.
As humans we all have the right to feel safe, to be able to express our opinions. The right to health care, education etc.
At the beginning of the uprising, people where asking for their rights to be met, NOT the removal of Assad, but he didn't listen he attacked the people!
Its way past the time when he should step down!!
I just pray for the people of Syria that this is soon over, that slowly they can rebuild their lives. Hopefully the next leadership will listen, and ACT upon what they HEAR. The people of Syria deserve security and freedom.

Sian Rider
Sian R.4 years ago

Well, at least Kristina is now acknowledging that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a UK-based activist group - which is an improvement on her previous, biaised postings.

I thought, reading her opening paragraph, that we might for once find a balanced and thoughtful story; sadly, she's still peddling her biases.
The fighting in Haleb (Aleppo) is between rebel and government agencies; it's not the government versus the people.

And war is terrible for everyone concerned but apportioning the blame to either side is neither honest nor productive.

Diane K.
Diane Knowles4 years ago

Is it 1912 or 2012. And Mr. Obama step up, this is human genocide no matter what country it's in. USA is very blessed.

Murray C.
Murray C.4 years ago

This is a Sunni take over..yes the Suadi Arabian Sunnis that flew airliners into buildings....this is the side that Dear Leader Barry & Harpee Hillary are siding with....Sunnis & Shi'ites have been at war for centuries...but then again the Sunni Suads have all that oil....the rebels hide amongst the civilians..no wonder people are getting killed and displaced....another Islamic ste with Sharia law coming to Syria soon...Im rooting for Assad

Troy G.
Troy Grant4 years ago

Civil war refugees are also environmental refugees.

Nicole Weber
Nicole W.4 years ago

noted

John W.
John W.4 years ago

Why are people leaving Aleppo, Kristina Chew? Might it be because their city, which supports the legitimate, endorsed and elected government of Mr al-Assad, refused to rise against him so the externally directed and armed rebels, whom you support, invaded it - and are now, incidentally taking the pasting they richly deserve.

John W.
John W.4 years ago

The disgusting propagandist Kristina Chew persists in quoting the discredited SOHR:--

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Observatory_for_Human_Rights

The UK based SOHR is run out of a two-bedroom terraced home in Coventry, UK, by Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdul Rahman, or Rami Abdelrahman), a Syrian Sunni Muslim who also runs a clothes shop.

[....]

The SOHR which is run by Mousab Azzawi has stated that they consider reporting on the deaths of government loyalists to be "not in their interest".[2]

John W.
John W.4 years ago

David N

"All of this occurs because we are not all that far removed from our cave-dwelling ancestors, ancestors who knew little more than how to fight with others. "

How utterly pathetic. Syrians didn't fight before their country was targetted for regime change by Zionist forces, the USI, Qatar, the KSA and Turkey. It was a beacon of tolerance and the mixing of minorities in a secular society.

Lucie G.
Lucie G.4 years ago

So sad as per usual it is the innocent that suffer the most.