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Fighting Has Forced More Than 1.5 Million Syrians To Move, U.N. Says

The scope of the ongoing crisis in Syria is made clear yet again by two new reports from the United Nations:

-- An estimated 1.5 million Syrians have been "internally displaced" because of the fighting between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and those who oppose him, according to Chaloka Beyani. He is the U.N.'s special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

The figure refers to "persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognised state border," according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.

According to the CIA's World Factbook, there are about 22.5 million people in Syria. So, about 6.7 percent of the population has been uprooted.

-- As of Thursday, 146,667 Syrians had sought help at refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. The largest number — more than 50,000 — are in Turkey.

Meanwhile, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from his listening post in Beirut that "in Aleppo, activists say Free Syrian Army rebels beat a tactical retreat from the Salaheddine neighborhood on Thursday in the face of heavy bombardment from government warplanes and artillery. Activists say the rebels are now regrouping in an adjacent neighborhood and planning a counterattack."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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