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2 Syrians die in hospital after flight to Lebanon

The Daily Star, May 16 2011

WADI KHALED: A Syrian soldier and a Syrian woman died Sunday after they were evacuated to hospitals in north Lebanon for treatment, a police source said.

The two victims were killed as fighting raged in the village of Tall Kalakh on the Syrian side of the border, the source said. The fighting resulted from the crackdown launched by Syrian security forces on anti-regime protesters in Tall Kalakh.

Five other people, including a Lebanese Army soldier and another Syrian soldier, were also wounded Sunday, the source said. The Syrian soldier remains in critical condition at Kobayat Hospital. Some reports said the two soldiers had been shot as they were trying to flee to Lebanon.

Fatimah Ouz Qassim, 65, died of her injuries at Peace Hospital in the northern Lebanese province of Akkar after she was evacuated across the north Bqayaa border crossing near the town of Wadi Khaled. She was fleeing the fighting in Tall Kalakh to Lebanon, the source said.

Her friend, Amman Hammoud al-Yousef, 67, was also wounded and is being treated at Rahal Hospital in the same region. Two children were also wounded, Alla Jihad Omar, 6, and Mahmoud Hassan al-Azhout, 5. The two children were being treated at Youssef Hospital in Akkar.

Traffic at the north Lebanon border crossing of Bqayaa ground to a halt and border security prevented journalists from approaching the crossing, citing safety concerns.

Syrian refugees have been crossing into Lebanon since April when Syrian authorities mounted a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters it described as being part of a conspiracy against the regime.

Some 800 Syrian families have crossed into the Lebanon in the last 48 hours, security sources said.

One man died of gunshot wounds after crossing the border from Syria and three others were admitted to Lebanese hospitals for treatment Saturday, following a security crackdown on Tall Kalakh, security sources said.

But Reuters, quoting Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, said three people were killed after Syrian troops and gunmen entered Tall Kalakh Saturday.

The violence came a day after activists said at least six people had been killed during nationwide protests in Syria which erupted in defiance of a military crackdown aimed a crushing opposition to President Bashar Assad.

Protests in Syria have taken place since March 15 as demonstrators demand reform in the tightly controlled Arab state.

Meanwhile, caretaker Social Affairs Minister Salim Sayegh visited the north Sunday and said he would oversee the distribution of aid to Syrians who fled into the country.

“As part of our social and humanitarian duties as social affairs minister and members of the Higher Relief Committee, aid has begun flowing into the Wadi Khaled-Akkar area to assist families coming from Syrian territories,” Sayegh told reporters after an inspection tour of Wadi Khaled.

“There are some humanitarian problems at the crossings. Some [refugees] arrived suffering wounds. There are families, women and children. This is a social, humanitarian and health process which we have to follow up.”

Sayegh acted a day after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri instructed authorities to coordinate in the assistance of refugees from Syria.

Hariri gave special instructions to the Higher Relief Committee to take the necessary measures and coordinate with the International Committee of the Red Cross and other parties if necessary, in order to help the Syrian refugees.

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