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Gunmen Kill Pro-Assad Analyst in Lebanon

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows an undated picture of Mohammad Darra Jamo, head of the political and international relations division of the International Organisation for Arab Immigrants.
Security officials and Syrian state media say a Syrian political analyst known to back President Bashar al-Assad has been assassinated in Lebanon.

Gunmen killed Mohammad Darra Jamo early Wednesday outside his home in the southern coastal town of Sarafand.

The state-run SANA news agency blamed "armed terrorists" for killing Jamo, who often appeared as a commentator on Arab television channels. Assad's government often uses the term terrorist to describe opposition forces.

Meanwhile, United Nations officials say the fighting in Syria is claiming about 5,000 lives a month, while refugees flee the conflict at a rate not seen since the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović told members of the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that the current level of killing shows the "drastic deterioration" of the Syrian conflict. He said there are documented cases of children being detained, tortured and executed, and that the number of incidents that can be classified as massacres has been steadily increasing.

U.N. refugee chief Antonio Gueterres said two-thirds of the 1.8 million Syrian refugees his agency is aware of in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt have fled since the beginning of this year.

U.N. officials say both armed opposition groups and Syrian government forces have prevented humanitarian aid from reaching civilians. They are calling on the two sides to allow access to unarmed civilians.

Šimonović said, at times, civilians trying to flee the fighting have been stopped at government checkpoints only to be sent back to their deaths. He says crimes against humanity "are the rule" in Syria.

A representative for the Syrian government told the Security Council Tuesday it has been doing everything it can to meet the humanitarian needs of its people. He also blamed many of the problems on terrorists, some of whom have infiltrated Syria from other countries.