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UN Says 210,000 Children in Syrian Province Need Urgent Help

About 420,000 people in the Syrian province of Homs, half of them children, are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, according to a United Nations mission that spent a month in the area.

Mark Choonoo, emergency specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund which was part of the mission, said most of the children he saw showed signs of distress, according to an e-mailed statement from UNICEF. About 200 of 1,500 schools in Homs have been damaged by the fighting, it said.

The uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad has killed more than 60,000 people since it began in March 2011, according to UN estimates.

Israeli jets struck inside Syria on Jan. 29, the first such attack since the unrest began. Syria said the target was a defense research center while a Western official said the warplanes hit Syrian trucks carrying anti-aircraft missiles for Lebanon’s Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

Syria’s army chief of staff, General Ali Abdullah Ayoub, said during an inspection of troops yesterday that it would be a mistake to imagine that anyone can “test the capabilities of the armed forces,” state-run SANA news agency said. Ayoub said Syria’s war with Israel has never stopped.

“We are aware of the volume of challenges that we face and at the same time we are aware of the size of our capabilities and our readiness to use them at the right time,” he said.

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