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Terrorism & Security

Refugee flow soars as Syrians flee intense fighting between rebels, Assad forces

The UN says that more than 11,000 people fled Syria overnight, and is warning that by early 2013, some 4 million inside Syria could need humanitarian aid.

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“[W]e are the last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region and coexistence, let’s say. It will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and you know the implication on the rest of the world,” Assad told RT TV.

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Latin America Editor

Whitney Eulich is the Monitor's Latin America editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She also curates the Latin America Monitor Blog.

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He said he didn’t believe the West would invade Syria, a sentiment reflected in editorials across the US, such as one entitled “The sensible course on Syria” published in the Los Angeles Times.  

There is no appetite among the American people … for U.S. military intervention in Syria. That reluctance is sensible. Painful as it is to observe the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians in the war between President Bashar Assad and insurgents inspired by the Arab Spring, the deployment of U.S. troops or a campaign of airstrikes under the rubric of a no-fly zone would enmesh the United States in an unpredictable conflict with a heavily armed ally of Iran on behalf of a fractious and fragmented rebel army. Even providing weapons to the rebels at this point would entail unacceptable risks that they would flow to Islamic extremists.

However, in his interview, Assad noted that if the West did militarily intervene, “nobody can tell what is next.”

Many are looking to Syrian opposition groups to take on a more unified role in the face of Syria’s devastating violence, and help to play an active role in resolving the conflict.

Opposition leaders have been meeting in Qatar this week to bring together Syria’s internal and exiled opposition. The Syrian National Council (SNC) has been the most prominent opposition group, but has come under fire because of both its fractured state and the fact that most of its leaders are located outside of the violence-torn country.

The SNC is expected to elect new leadership today, before taking into consideration a role in the proposed Syrian National Initiative, in which it would have a minority role, reports the BBC.

"We hope we can reach an agreement [on Friday] after the Syrian National Council has succeeded in selecting a new leadership," opposition figure Haytham al-Maleh told Agence France-Presse.

According to participants, all the delegates agreed on a plan for the way forward except the SNC, which insisted on a day's delay in order to complete its leadership changes.

The mooted plan foresees the formation of a unified opposition structure that would allow coordinated military action against the regime, as well as humanitarian aid and the administration of zones under their control, they said.

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