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Syrians Flee Civil War For Lebanese Safety
Thousands of Syrians are fleeing to Lebanon as the violence intensifies in Damascus and across the country.
The UN says at least 30,000 people have crossed over the main border point at Al Masna - just an hour's drive from the Syrian capital - in the past few days.
Thousands still seem to be coming, with a queue of Syrian plated vehicles stretching back from the crossing, many of them with suitcases strapped precariously to the roof.
Some of the cars appear to be carrying whole families - the parents, grandparents and the children crammed inside.
Flagged down just after the crossing, some did not want to speak about whey they were leaving - even now, outside the country, many Syrians seem afraid of criticising the regime.
But Nadra, a grandmother who had travelled with her daughter from the suburb of Barzeh in the capital, described how the war arrived on her doorstep two days ago.
"From my home, I could see the helicopters bombing and I could see the tanks firing the missiles that were killing the people and destroying our houses," she said.
She managed to escape to another neighbourhood to stay with friends before heading across the border into Lebanon.
Many Syrians have relatives in Lebanon and some have second homes here, while a few can afford to book hotels in Beirut.
But others are being put up in "safe-houses" set up by local activists who support the opposition. A few miles from the border one small, two roomed house is now home to three families who have just arrived from Damascus.
"The snipers were everywhere when we left," one woman said, clutching her eight-month-old daughter, the youngest of her six children.
"We had to leave or be dead. We saw people lying in the streets, some of our neighbours were killed," she said.
The Lebanese government has not yet resorted to setting up tented refugee camps, but it is opening up some of the public schools as temporary accommodation for those who have nowhere else to go.
One man, who did not want to give his name, is living with four other families at a school a short drive from the border crossing.
They sleep on thin foam mattresses on the floor of the classrooms and set up stoves in the playground to cook.
He said most of the refugees are women because many of the men have either stayed behind to fight or have been killed.
"If you ask anyone here, they will have lost a father, a son or a brother" he said.
Then he brought forward a nine-year-old girl. "Tell them where your father is," he said to her.
"He is dead," she said. "He was killed by the soldiers because he went outside the house to try to get fuel."