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Monday, March 05, 2012

100,000 Syrians have fled so far

From AP:

More than a thousand Syrian refugees have poured across the border into Lebanon, among them families with small children carrying only plastic bags filled with their belongings as they fled a regime hunting down its opponents.

The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that as many as 2,000 Syrians had crossed into Lebanon in the last two days. Associated Press reporters in one border village saw families crossing with only a few possessions.

"We fled the shelling and the strikes," said Hassana Abu Firas in Qaa in northeast Lebanon. She came with two families who had fled government shelling of their town al-Qusair, about 14 miles (22 kilometers) away on the other side of the Syrian border.

The town is in Homs province, an opposition stronghold where the government has been waging a brutal offensive for the past month. The province borders Lebanon.

"What are we supposed to do? People are sitting in their homes and they are hitting us with tanks. Those who can flee do. Those who can't will die sitting down," she said.
Homs, the provincial capital and Syria's third-largest city with one million residents, has emerged as a central battleground in the year-old uprising to oust authoritarian President Bashar Assad.

Activists say hundreds have been killed in the month-long Homs offensive and the U.N. recently put the death toll for a year of violence in Syria at 7,500. However, activists group say the toll has already surpassed 8,000.

Violence across Syria has sent more than 100,000 people fleeing into neighboring countries. Turkey says it hosts more than 11,000 Syrians in camps along the Turkey-Syria border, including more than 1,000 who crossed in the last month. About 100 have crossed in the last two days.

Jordan has more than 80,000, according to government spokesman Rakan al-Majali.

Lebanese security officials say more than 10,000 Syrians are believed to be in the country. One official said as many as 3,000 are believed to have crossed in recent days because violence in Homs province, though it is unclear how many have returned to Syria.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity under government protocol.
Some 800 Syrians are trying to enter Libya but are being blocked due to visa issues.