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Thousands Of Syria Refugees Stream Into Turkey


Assad: 'No Problem Between Me And The People'
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In an interview with Russia's RT television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied that the country is in the midst of a civil war and rejected accusations that the army is guilty of crimes against the Syrian people. (RT via Reuters)

The UN refugee agency says that as many as 9,000 Syrians have crossed into Turkey to flee the violence in their country.

A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said large numbers of refugees had been crossing into the Turkish border province of Sanliurfa since November 8.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told RFE/RL the numbers were higher than usual.

"Certainly, this is a sudden increase in the numbers [of refugees] we've seen coming across into Turkey. You have to recall though that, over the last few months, we have been looking, on a daily basis, at 2,000 to 3,000 people fleeing Syria to neighboring countries," Edwards said.

"There have been peaks in arrivals in other countries. It looks like we're facing exactly that situation right now."

Turkish state media reported on November 9 that a group of 26 Syrian Army officers are among the new arrivals in Turkey, including two generals.

It's said to be the biggest desertion of senior soldiers from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces in months.

The Anadolu Agency says that the group of 71 people in total, including military men and their families, arrived in the Turkish border province of Hatay.

They were taken to a camp that shelters military defectors, including dozens of other generals.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Refugees

According to the Geneva-based refugee agency, another 1,000 Syrians have fled into Lebanon and 1,000 into Jordan since November 8.

Edwards said most of those fleeing were coming directly from areas of fighting within Syria.

"Primarily they're coming from conflict areas. The refugees coming to Turkey are typically from around the Aleppo region and Idlib, and as we know there's been conflict there in the past few days," Edwards said.

"It would appear that the people who are arriving in Turkey are simply reflecting that conflict in that location."

The influx brings to more than 400,000 the number of registered Syrian refugees across the region.

Thousands of others are believed to be living unregistered by the UN in neighboring countries.

Syrian rights activists estimate that more than 30,000 people have been killed since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March 2011.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition leaders say they have made progress toward agreeing on a new, broad-based leadership group.

Further talks on the composition of the group are expected on November 9 in Doha, Qatar.

The United States and the opposition’s other Western and Arab allies have backed the formation of a unified opposition leadership body that would include representatives of rebels and activists that have been fighting against the Assad regime.

The group is envisioned as coordinating military action, aid distribution, and preparing a transitional government.

A leading opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council (SNC), has been meeting this week in Doha to select its new leadership. But faced with criticism that it is too dominated by exiles, the SNC is not expected to control the new body.

With reporting by AP, dpa, Reuters, and AFP
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