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UN: More than a million Syrians have fled homes

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 7:03 p.m.

The number of Syrians who have fled their homeland during the nearly two years of violence has officially exceeded 1 million, the United Nations said.

The milestone had long been anticipated as the influx of refugees has continued inexorably, straining the resources of neighboring nations, especially Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

Inside Syria, the violence is said to have displaced an additional 2 million-plus people from their homes.

Aid groups and international observers have been sounding alarms for months about what they call a humanitarian catastrophe, warnings that were repeated Wednesday once the 1-million mark had been reached.

In fact, officials say many more than 1 million people have fled Syria; the official figures only include those who have formally registered with the United Nations as refugees or are in the process of registering. Many, they say, have not registered.

Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes bombarded the northeastern provincial capital of Raqqa for a second consecutive day, killing at least 39 people, opposition activists said.

The Local Coordination Committee, a grassroots activists' organization, said 17 people were killed in a single raid, on a square in the city. Video footage showed fighters putting dismembered bodies in an ambulance.

Thousands of families, many of whom are refugees from the neighboring provinces of Aleppo and Deir al-Zor, have been fleeing Raqqa to surrounding countryside since it came under heavy aerial bombardment because of an announcement by the opposition on Monday that it was captured, the sources said.

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