13.5m Syrians need aid, protection: UN

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The UN is estimating that 13.5 million people in Syria are now in need of humanitarian assistance and some form of protection, including more than six million children.

UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that this represents an increase of some 1.2 million people in just 10 months.
He said violence in Syria has created “one of the largest displacement crises of modern times.”
O’Brien said there are now some 6.5 million people who have fled their homes and are displaced inside Syria, while 4.2 million have fled the country.
Meanwhile, France will host a meeting on the Syria crisis with Western and Arab allies later on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
The “working dinner” at the French foreign office will include “the main partners engaged with France in dealing with the Syrian crisis: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Germany, the US, Italy and Britain,” said Fabius in a statement.
A French opposition lawmaker visiting the war-torn country said on Tuesday that finding a solution to the conflict in Syria will require talking to President Bashar Assad.
“The settlement of the Syrian political situation necessarily requires a dialogue with the Syrian president who is in place and is elected by the Syrian people,” said Jean-Frederic Poisson, of France’s right-wing Christian Democratic Party. Poisson is visiting Syria with two other French lawmakers, and the delegation is due to meet Assad on Wednesday.
Washington, meanwhile, believes there are fewer than 2,000 Iranian troops in Syria helping Assad forces and more than 1,000 in Iraq supporting the Baghdad government, the top US military officer said.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the number of Iranian forces in Iraq had fluctuated over time.
“I think there’s more than 1,000 that are on the ground in Iraq,” Dunford said. “In Syria, we think the numbers are probably something less than 2,000.”

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