UN: Over 20,000 Syrian refugees cross into Iraq

By REUTERS
August 19, 2013 12:38

Syrians pour into the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, taking advantage of a new bridge along largely closed border.

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Syrian refugees at refugee camp in Arbil, about 350 km north of Baghdad August 16, 2013.

Syrian refugees in Iraq 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

GENEVA - More than 20,000 Syrian refugees have entered northern Iraq since Thursday in one of the largest crossings in the more than two-year-old conflict and the influx is continuing, the United Nations said on Monday.

Syrians began pouring into the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq last Thursday, taking advantage of a new bridge along the largely closed border, the UN says.

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"It looks like the total from last Thursday to now is somewhere in the region of 20,000 or more coming across," Adrian Edwards of the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.

"If not the biggest influx across the border at a single time then it is among the largest in the whole Syria crisis." Hundreds of Syrians fleeing fighting in Aleppo and other parts of northern Syria were massed along the Tigris River on Monday near the pontoon crossing, UNHCR staff said.

Thousands of Syrian refugees poured into the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, taking advantage of a new bridge along the largely closed border, the United Nations said on Friday.

Between 5,000 and 7,000 refugees followed a first group of some 750 people who crossed the pontoon bridge at Peshkhabour over the Tigris River, and more buses were seen dropping off families on the Syrian side, it said.

"Thousands of Syrians crossed into northern Iraq last week in a sudden, massive movement," Adrian Edwards, spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing in Geneva.


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