(MENAFN - Arab News) The number of Syrian refugees registered in neighboring countries has nearly doubled since the beginning of September to more than 440,000, the UN refugee agency said yesterday.
"Across the region... the number of Syrian refugees in surrounding countries now stands at 442,256, an increase of more than 213,000 since the beginning of September," UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.
"And this figure does not include the hundreds of thousands more Syrians who did not come forward for registration," he said.
The agency said it currently counted 127,420 Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, 125,670 in Jordan, 123,747 in Turkey, 55,685 in Iraq and 9,734 in the North African countries.
In Iraq, the number of registered Syrian refugees had tripled since Sept. 1 when only 18,700 were registered there, the agency said in a statement.
Three quarters of all Syrian refugees in Iraq were in the Kurdistan region, and nearly half were in camps, it said. In Jordan, meanwhile, "nearly 4,500 desperate and exhausted Syrian refugees have crossed the border over the past eight days, most of them women and children," the UNHCR said, adding that most came from the villages of Hrak, Sawra, Dael and Qubeit Al Gazal in Dara'a.
Two main Kurdish groups have agreed to join forces in a standoff with hundreds of rebels in northeastern Syria, a Syrian Kurdish representative and an activist said yesterday.
Hundreds of fighters loyal to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) - which has close ties to Turkey's rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - have been locked in fierce battles with fighters of the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and allied Ghuraba Al-Sham group in Ras Al-Ain on the border with Turkey.
"We initially agreed on forming these (joint) forces that do not belong to any side, and discussions are ongoing now" in Arbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Mohammed Rasho, a representative of the People's Council of Western Kurdistan, which is close to the PYD, said.
Qatar has asked Syria's newly formed opposition coalition to appoint an ambassador to the Gulf state, the first Arab country to publicly announce it will accept an envoy from the body.
"The Qatari request aims to strengthen the goals of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces to achieve the hopes of the Syrian people," said a Qatari Foreign Ministry official, quoted by the state news agency QNA.
A bomb blast in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus killed four people and seriously wounded a member of a faction that has backed Assad in the country's bitter civil war, activists said yesterday.
The explosion late Thursday in the Yarmouk camp targeted the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
Four people died and a PFLP-GC activist was seriously wounded when the bomb planted under his car went off, the group said. It blamed the rebel Free Syrian Army for the attack.
Yarmouk has been pulled into Syria's fighting before, most recently earlier this month when clashes in and around the camp killed and wounded dozens.
Iran's influential Parliament speaker Ali Larijani met Assad in Damascus yesterday at the start of a regional tour to find a solution to the conflict in his country's key ally.
State television said Assad received the Iranian envoy, who earlier met with pro-Syrian Palestinian factions.
Larijani said before leaving Tehran that he would "try to find a solution to the Syrian problem" on a tour that will also take him to Lebanon and Turkey.
The meeting came as Moscow warned Turkey against deploying Patriot missiles on its troubled border with war-torn Syria after Ankara turned to NATO to request the surface-to-air defenses.