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Thousands 'flee raging conflict'

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled their homes amid the bloody conflict raging in their country, with many crossing the border into Lebanon, Save the Children has said.

Almost 500 Syrian refugee families are now living in the north Lebanese region of Wadi Khaled, many of whom arrived before the recent shelling of Homs.

Highlighting their plight, the charity said those who made it had described braving perilous journeys and freezing temperatures to reach the border. Some have reported being shot at along the way while others said they had lost their relatives in the chaos.

Save the Children's spokesman in Lebanon said: "For children it is particularly hard. They arrive, hungry, cold and terrified, in a strange country where they don't know anyone.Their parents are deeply stressed and they may have nowhere to go. Some have been through unimaginably traumatic experiences. When they arrive they need help."

Ten-year-old Ahmed, from Hasibah in Syria, arrived in the Lebanese town of Aarsal on Thursday with his father and 15-year-old sister to stay at his uncle's house, and has described his terror of the bombing in his home country.

"We decided to leave our village when the fighting started not far away from our home," he said. "I saw tanks coming in and we heard that people were killed. We heard that the border was difficult to cross.

"What is happening is scary. People are getting killed and there is always bombing, especially at night. A house was bombed just 300 metres away from our home. I felt that everything was shaking around me when this happened, I was so scared.

"What scared us the most is whenever there was bombing, you would think that it was very far, but then you would see bombing very near. It was not far at all."

A man who gave his name only as Jaber and did not want to give his real name out of fear for his parents in Syria, arrived in the Lebanese village of Al-Fakiha three days ago with his wife and three young children after his house was bombed.

He is now renting a house with no furniture, heating or kitchen utensils, but as he is not working, he does not know how he will pay the rent, the charity said.

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