Syrian Refugee Numbers Swell to 200,000
The United Nations says that as many as 200,000 people have fled from civil war-torn Syria into neighboring countries. The UN refugee agency had predicted that there would be 185,000 by the end of this year.
Just in the past week, 30,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey — which has indicated that it can only take so many refugees– Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
Just on Thursday night, a “record” 2,200 people crossed the border to Jordan, says UN spokesman Adrian Edwards. Within Syria itself, some 1.2 million people have been displaced and over 2.5 are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Shelling and fighting between government forces and the rebels including the Free Syrian Army (FSA) continued in the capital of Damascus and Aleppo, which have become the main battle fronts in the conflict. The army is targeting areas in the cities where it believes rebel forces have gathered and the civilian death toll is mounting in the process. The rebel fighters are using “classic guerrilla tactics,” says the BBC’s Barbara Plett and these have made it difficult for the army “despite its use of massive force” to defeat them.
The UK and France have joined the US in warning Syria against using its arsenal of chemical weapons. Russia, Syria’s ally, has also said that no chemical weapons should be used and said that Syria has given it a “guarantee” regarding this. France’s defense minister is also calling for the establishment of a partial no-fly zone.
All these are signs of what has long been apparent, that — even as the Syrian government says that it will work with the new UN-Arab League envoy for the country, Lakhdar Brahimi — time has run out for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, which began as peaceful anti-government demonstrations inspired by the Arab Spring protests in the southern agricultural city of Daraa in March of 2011.
31-year-old Austin Tice, a US journalist who has been covering the conflict, has been missing for more than a week, his family says. Tice has published work in the Washington Post and McClatchy Newspapers, both of whom say they are concerned about his welfare.
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