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The Battle for Syria

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Syrian Nightmare Worsens at 11,000 Refugees Flee in Single Day

November 9th 2012

Syrians by VOA photog Elizabeth Arrot

Dispatches from Mideast media and diplomatic sources indicate the Syrian crisis has escalated to a new level of carnage and human misery. The Daily Star of Lebanon reports: "Thousands of Syrians fled their country on Friday in one of the biggest refugee exoduses of the 20 month war after rebels seized a border town. Syria's fractious opposition was meeting in Qatar, under increasing pressure from the United States and Qatar to unite and form a credible body capable of ruling the country effectively if President Bashar al-Assad falls. The United Nations said 11,000 refugees had fled in 24 hours, most to Turkey. The exodus is testing the patience of Ankara, the most militarily capable of Syria's neighbours and a strong opponent of Assad. Ankara has long said a full-blown refugee emergency would demand robust intervention."

One town alone yielded thousands of residents pouring out of the Arab and Kurd town, in the northeastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, 600 km (375 miles) from Damascus.

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hit out at world powers on the U.N. Security Council over their inaction. "It is very strange. There are currently atrocities being committed in Syria and these atrocities are being directed by a state leader," he said. "How far will this go? When will the permanent members of the Security Council take responsibility?"

Rebels overran the frontier town of Ras al-Ain late on Thursday, continuing a drive that has already seen them push Assad's troops from much of the north and seize several crossing points, a rebel commander and opposition sources said. "The crossing is important because it opens another line to Turkey, where we can send the wounded and get supplies," said Khaled al-Walid, a commander in the Raqqa rebel division."

The New York Times reported: "The latest surge of refugees, which also included 1,000 Syrians reaching Lebanon and 1,000 into Jordan, took the number who have registered with the United Nations to more than 408,000, said Panos Moumtzis, the refugee agency official who is coordinating the response. The true total of those fleeing the conflict is much higher because many refugees have had not registered, Mr. Moumtzis said. The majority of registered refugees have sought haven in Turkey, which borders northern Syria and is an enclave for the rebels fighting to topple the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. The surge in refugees fleeing the conflict came as agencies of the United Nations and other groups met donor governments in Geneva to report on the crisis and appealed for a greater financial support. “There is more violence, more humanitarian suffering, more displacement and more losses,” said Radhouane Nouicer, the refugee agency’s Damascus-based coordinator. The United Nations estimates that more than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance across Syria — including 1.2 million displaced by the conflict — were conservative, he said. The United States will provide $34 million in additional aid to Syrians affected by conflict, bringing the total provided by the United States to $165 million, the American diplomatic mission in Geneva said in an announcement distributed at the donor meeting.

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