Thousands flee in mass exodus from Syria

Thousands of Syrians fled their country on Friday in one of the biggest refugee exoduses of the 20 month war after rebels seized a border town.

Syria's fractious opposition was meeting in Qatar, under increasing pressure from the United States and Qatar to unite and form a credible body capable of ruling the country effectively if President Bashar al-Assad falls.

The United Nations said 11,000 refugees had fled in 24 hours, most to Turkey. The exodus is testing the patience of Ankara, the most militarily capable of Syria's neighbours and a strong opponent of Assad. Ankara has long said a full-blown refugee emergency would demand robust intervention.

Rebels overran the frontier town of Ras al-Ain late on Thursday, continuing a drive that has already seen them push Assad's troops from much of the north and seize several crossing points, a rebel commander and opposition sources said.

"The crossing is important because it opens another line to Turkey, where we can send the wounded and get supplies," said Khaled al-Walid, a commander in the Raqqa rebel division.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that compiles opposition activist reports, said at least 20 members of the Syrian security forces were killed when rebel fighters attacked a security headquarters in Ras al-Ain.Thousands of residents poured out of the Arab and Kurd town, in the northeastern oil-producing province of Hasaka, 600 km (375 miles) from Damascus.Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hit out at world powers on the U.N. Security Council over their inaction. “It is very strange. There are currently atrocities being committed in Syria and these atrocities are being directed by a state leader," he said.

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