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Middle East

Spike in Syrian refugee numbers

Refugees outside the country doubles from 213,000 to 442,256 since September, as fighting intensifies across Syria.
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2012 21:10

The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighbouring countries has nearly doubled since the beginning of September to more than 440,000, according to the the UN refugee agency on Friday.

"Across the region... the number of Syrian refugees in surrounding countries now stands at 442,256, an increase of more than 213,000 since the beginning of September," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva

"And this figure does not include the hundreds of thousands more Syrians who did not come forward for registration," he said.

The agency said it currently counted 127,420 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, 125,670 in Jordan, 123,747 in Turkey, 55,685 in Iraq and 9,734 in the North African countries.

In Iraq, the number of registered Syrian refugees had tripled since September 1 when only 18,700 were registered there, the agency said in a statement.

Three quarters of all Syrian refugees in Iraq were in the Kurdistan region, and nearly half were in camps, it said.

The Domiz camp in the north of the Kurdistan region was housing around 18,500 people, and had for the past two months received around 500-600 new arrivals per day, it said.

In Jordan, meanwhile, "nearly 4,500 Syrian refugees have crossed the border over the past eight days, most of them women and children," the UNHCR said, adding that most came from the villages of Hrak, Sawra, Dael and Qubeit Al Gazal in Dara'a.

"Our teams on the ground say those arriving over the past week were among the most frightened they have seen so far, particularly the women," it said.

The agency, which aims to deliver emergency aid to 500,000 people across Syria by the end of the year, said Friday it had so far reached around 300,000.

The UN estimates that around 2.5 million Syrians are in need of emergency aid inside the war torn country.

Violence

Separately, clashes between Kurdish fighters and Syrian rebels have continued in the border town of Ras al-Ain on Saturday.

The fighting with Kurdish fighters from with the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, forced more residents to flee their homes with their belongings to neighbouring Turkey.

The PYD is affiliated with the PKK, rebels fighting for autonomy in the Kurdish-dominated southeast region of Turkey. 

Rebels have maintained a tentative hold over the northern town, which has been repeatedly bombarded by government forces. 

"There are so few people, most have left. There is no electricity, no water and no mobile coverage," said Ali, a farmer in his 40s, who fled Ras al-Ain with his family on Saturday.

"The fighting has been non-stop for five or six days now, but in the last 24 hours it has gotten worse ... The Kurds are bringing reinforcements from Derik and other nearby villages," he said.

Two main Kurdish groups have joined forces in a standoff with hundreds of Syrian rebels, a Syrian Kurdish representative and an activist said on Friday.

Spotlight
In-depth coverage of escalating violence across Syria

Meanwhile, Syrian rebels attacked army positions in the province of Aleppo and near the Tishrin dam, which is located on the Euphrates river between Aleppo and Raqa province. 

The rebels have surrounded the area, about 10km from the town of Manbij, local resident Abu Mohammed told AFP.

Opposition fighters already control one of the main routes to Raqa and the Tishrin dam would give them a second passage, connecting a wide expanse of territory between the two provinces, both of which border Turkey.

In Aleppo city, the commercial capital where fighting has reached stalemate after five months of deadly urban combat, clashes broke out near an air force intelligence building, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Earlier this week, rebels captured Base 46, just west of Aleppo. Nearly 300 soldiers were killed in the sprawling army garrison, according to the fighters, and a large cache of arms and ammunition seized.

The rebels are tryingto also seize Sheikh Suleiman base, also west of the city, which they have encircled for nearly two months, to give them full control of a swathe of northwest Syria from Aleppo to the Turkish border.

More than 40,000 people have been killed across Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Al Jazeera can not independly verify the reports of violence due to a government ban on foreign journalists from operating in the country.

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Source:
Agencies
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