As fighting flares, Syrians pour into Lebanon

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BEIRUT — Thousands of Syrians poured into Lebanon over the past two days, taking shelter in wedding halls and makeshift shacks after fleeing heavy fighting in a rugged mountain region across the border in western Syria, UN and local officials said Sunday.

The clashes in Qalamoun, an area that stretches from north of the Syrian capital along the Lebanese frontier, appeared to be part of a long-anticipated government offensive aimed at cutting a key rebel supply route and cementing President Bashar Assad’s hold on the strategic corridor from the capital to the coast.

Assad’s forces have made headway against the rebels on two key fronts, capturing a string of opposition-held suburbs south of Damascus and taking two towns and a military base outside Aleppo.

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