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No let-up in refugee influx to Jordan amid scattered border violence

By Taylor Luck - Feb 06,2013 - Last updated at Feb 06,2013

AMMAN — Hundreds of Syrians fled to Jordan on Wednesday amid reports of scattered violence along the border.

According to the UN, some 2,000 Syrians crossed into Jordan early Wednesday, the single highest number of daily new arrivals in over a week.

The UN Refugee Agency said the majority of the refugees originated from the Daraa village of Sheikh Al Maskeen, which has witnessed heavy shelling and intense clashes between Syrian regime and rebel forces over the past month.

Some 30 military defectors were among Wednesday’s arrivals, a security source said, most of whom sustained injuries in a recent battle for control over the border region.

Authorities transferred the injured rebels to public hospitals in the border cities of Ramtha and Mafraq for treatment, according to the source.

Wednesday’s influx came amid reports of scattered clashes in southern Syria as relative calm prevailed along the Jordanian-Syrian border for the second straight day.

Heavy gunfire was reported after brief clashes broke out between regime and rebel forces near the border villages of Nasib and Tal Shihab late Tuesday, Jordanian security sources said.

On Tuesday, Syrian rebels suspended an intense 36-hour military offensive along the Jordanian-Syrian border after they failed to capture the Ramtha and Nasib/Jaber crossing points.

Two Jordanians were reportedly injured in the clashes, which saw Damascus deploy fighter jets and tank brigades to repel the assault.

Despite the current lull in hostilities, rebel officials have vowed to renew their offensive once the inclement weather affecting the border region lifts.

“We have regrouped, we are waiting and we are ready,” said Abu Hani Al Darawi, Free Syrian Army coordinator stationed in the border region.

“The battle to liberate the southern border has only begun.”

Meanwhile, violence continued to intensify across Syria on Wednesday, with the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting some 100 deaths in clashes in Daraa, Homs, Deir Al Zour and the Damascene countryside.

Activists say intensified aerial assaults on residential centres across the country and a rise in alleged massacres — including the reported discovery of 22 summarily executed young men in the Homs village of Khanassar on Tuesday — has driven thousands of displaced persons to southern Syria.

As of late Wednesday, some 15,000 displaced Syrians had amassed along the Jordanian-Syrian border waiting to cross, rebel sources said.

Jordan has opened its border to over 350,000 Syrians since the onset of the conflict in March 2011, hosting the largest number of refugees among Syria’s neighbours.

Officials say hosting the rapidly growing community is projected to cost Jordan up to $800 million in 2013. 

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