Syrians flee across the border to Lebanon | News | DW | 06.03.2012
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Syrians flee across the border to Lebanon

The latest fighting in Syria has unleashed a flow of refugees across the border to Lebanon. Aid workers still haven't been allowed into the former rebel stronghold of Baba Amr in Homs.

A growing number of Syrians are fleeing over the border to Lebanon after rebel forces withdrew from the central city of Homs late last week.

The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, says that hundreds of refugees have fled across the frontier since the major fighting in Homs ended. Lebanese officials say as many as 3,000 have crossed the border over the past few days.

Those who have reached Lebanon have told journalists that they feared if they had stayed in Syria they would have been killed.

"We fled the shelling and the strikes," Hassana Abu Firas told the Associated Press in the village of Qaa, just over the Lebanese border from Syria.

"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 added.

Firas was among several families who had crossed the border after travelling from the town of al-Qusair in Homs province.

More aid arrives in Homs

Efforts to get help to those in need in Syria are ongoing. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said a fifth convoy carrying aid reached the city of Homs on Monday, bringing food, blankets and hygienic items. However, ICRC workers were still unable to enter the district of Baba Amr. Many of those who received the aid had fled the former rebel stronghold.

Watch video 01:45

UN humanitarian chief says to visit Syria this week

Opposition activists have accused forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out summary executions in Baba Amr, but this is almost impossible to confirm due to a government ban on most Western journalists from reporting in Syria.

Amos, Annan to visit

UN Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos is expected to push for unhindered access for aid workers when she visits Syria later this week. This comes after Damascus agreed to allow both Amos and the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to visit the country. Annan is to visit Syria on Saturday to urge Assad to end his regime's crackdown on dissent.

The UN estimates that more than 7,500 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Assad's regime broke out one year ago.

pfd/acb (AP, Reuters)

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