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Syrians Fleeing to Jordan Could Signal Larger Influx

A Syrian couple, who fled their home, sits on the side of the road as they take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, August 23, 2012.
The United Nations refugee agency says the number of Syrians fleeing to Jordan has doubled in recent days, with 10,200 arriving in the past week, signaling what could be an impending mass movement.

Spokeswoman Melissa Fleming of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the new arrivals at the Za'atri camp in northern Jordan are mainly from Syria's southern flashpoint area of Daraa. She said refugees reported "being bombed as they were trying to cross" the border.

The U.N. agency says up to 200,000 Syrian refugees could flee to Turkey if the conflict continues to deepen. More than 3,000 refugees have fled Syria to Turkey in the past 24 hours alone.

The exodus comes as Syrian state TV is reporting that 12 people were killed and nearly 50 wounded in a car bomb explosion at a funeral on the outskirts of Damascus.

The blast took place in the Druze and Christian suburb of Jaramana around the southeastern part of the capital.

An activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the funeral was being held for two government supporters killed in a bomb attack on Monday.

Non-Aligned summit

In Tehran, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement that member nations have condemned sanctions imposed against Syria by the West and some other countries. He also warned countries not to support Syrian rebels, who he called "terrorists."

"Any support by any foreign country of the terrorists in Syria is absolutely condemned, and we tell them that once you support terrorism in Syria it will come back to your own country. Stop it!" said Mekdad.

Syrian Refugees

The UNHCR says more Syrians are fleeing as violence increases. Most are heading to the following countries:

  • Jordan: 150,000 refugees
  • Turkey: 70,000 refugees
  • Lebanon: More than 35,000 refugees
  • Iraq: 12,000 registered refugees
  • Algeria: 10-25,000 refugees

source: UNHCR

New offensive

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that Syrian military helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over Damascus and its suburbs Tuesday, urging rebels to hand over their weapons or be killed.

The AP said some of the leaflets read "The Syrian army is determined to cleanse every inch in Syria and you have only two choices: abandon your weapons ... or face inevitable death.''

Syrian authorities blame the 17-month uprising on a foreign conspiracy and accuse oil-rich Gulf countries Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in addition to the United States and Turkey, of backing "terrorists" seeking to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

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