UN reveals 200,000 have fled war in Syria

More than 200,000 people have fled the Syrian civil war to neighbouring countries, surpassing the 185,000 the United Nations’ refugee agency had expected to flee by year end.

The total reflects an increase of some 30,000 in the past week alone to Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan, but also takes into account a change in the way the agency counts those in Jordan, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said.

“There has been a dramatic increase in the number of refugees in the region during August, we’re now at over 200,000, that’s over and above our planning figure for all 2012 of 185,000 refugees,” spokesman Adrian ­Edwards said.

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Turkey continues to see the largest refugee influx, with more than 74,000 registered as of Wednesday, Mr Edwards said. More than 3,500 people fleeing Syria have entered Turkey over the past 24 hours, Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate said yesterday, one of the highest daily refugee flows since the start of the uprising last year.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops backed by tanks entered the centre of Daraya, a town on the south-west edge of Damascus, yesterday after three days of heavy ground and helicopter bombardment, activists said.

Hundreds of troops and dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles were seen on al-Thawra street in Daraya, taking control of the suburb as a core group of Free Syrian Army fighters pulled out, several activists said by phone from the Syrian capital.

Daraya, which has a population of a quarter of a million, is one of a series of mostly poor Sunni Muslim suburbs that ­surround Damascus and have been at the forefront of the uprising against president Bashar al-Assad.