Conflict & Justice

Elite Syrians Fleeing to Lebanon as Possible US Airstrike Looms

syria-refugees.jpg

This Syrian family is seeking refuge in northern Iraq.

Credit:

Azad Lashkari/Reuters

United Nations inspectors are continuing their mission in Syria.

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And they're under a lot of pressure.

The inspectors are now at the heart of the international debate over the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war.

The inspectors are collecting evidence in the suburbs of Damascus, at the scene of what appears to have been a chemical attack that may have killed hundreds and sickened thousands.

Washington and its allies are debating how to respond, with a military strike of some kind as an option.

Many Damascus residents are convinced an attack is coming.

Samir Baghdash lives downtown and told the BBC "around me there's many buildings for government that on TV I hear they want to destroy. For that reason, I'm afraid. All the people in the area, they are very afraid. You can't sleep. We can't sleep safely."

Susan Ahmad, an opposition activist in Damascus, told the BBC "Assad supporters are really afraid and scared. They took their families and ran away. Some went to Lebanon, some went to their hometowns or the coastal areas."

That flight was witnessed by Martin Chulov, a reporter with Britain's Guardian newspaper. He says some of the "best cars in Damascus are slinking into Lebanon."

The departure of the elite indicates that either they just want to ride out the coming storm, or they have given up on the regime.