Most of Syria out of Assad's control, says ex-PM
In his first public speech since his defection last week, Syria's former prime minister Riyad Farid Hijab said Assad's 'regime is on the verge of collapse.' In the meantime, the United Nations is attempts to provide aid to the people of Syria and Iran provides training to some of Assad's troops.
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U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos on Tuesday arrived in Damascus, the Syrian capital, as part of a three-day trip to the region to discuss humanitarian aid for those trapped by the escalating combat or forced to flee their homes. Amos’ visit came a day after activists said more than 150 people across the country were killed in the ongoing conflict.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Battle for the heart of Syria: inside Aleppo
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Amos came to discuss ways of urgently increasing relief efforts and reducing civilian suffering with Syrian authorities, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian groups. Later in her trip she will meet with refugee families in Lebanon and discuss with the Lebanese government and relief organizations on how best to support them.
As fighting in recent weeks has stepped up in areas people had previously sought refuge — including Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s commercial hub — nowhere in the country now seems safe.
The United Nations estimates that 2 million people have been affected by the conflict between government forces and rebels and more than 1 million have been internally displaced. More than 140,000 people have fled the violence and crossed into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.
Meanwhile, the head of the U.N. monitoring mission said Tuesday that the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons by Assad’s forces as well as targeted attacks by the opposition are increasing.
“It is clear that violence is increasing in many parts of Syria,” said Lt. Gen. Babacar Gaye of Senegal, speaking at a news conference in Damascus. “Our patrols are monitoring the impact of this violence, visiting internally displaced people and hospitals.”
The monitoring mission has intensified its efforts to negotiate “local pauses” to enable assistance to civilians, Gaye said. Monitors had suspended their regular patrols and monitoring activities in mid-June as the violence escalated.
“The conflict has gone on too long and far too many people are suffering,” he said.
The U.N. monitoring mission, which began in April and has been criticized for doing nothing to quell the bloodshed, only has less than a week to go before its authorization expires.
“We will continue to the last minute of our mandate to urge the parties to move from confrontation to dialogue,” he said.
(Times staff writer David S. Cloud in Washington contributed to this report.)