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Syrian refugees lash out at Kerry, ask for no-fly zone

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a news conference with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (not seen) in Amman on Wednesday.

REUTERS/file

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at a news conference with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh (not seen) in Amman on Wednesday.

ZAATARI, Jordan — Angry Syrian refugees confronted Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday with demands for the United States and the international community to do more to help opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime, venting frustration at perceived inaction on their behalf.

Visiting the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan near the Syrian border, Kerry met six representatives of its 115,000-strong population, all of whom appealed to him for the United States and its allies to create no-fly zones and set up safe zones inside Syria to prevent the Assad regime from inflicting additional destruction.

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The United Nations said the conflict has killed more than 93,000 people and become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

‘‘We are begging you for a no-fly zone,’’ Jamalat Abu al-Hariri, one of the refugees, told reporters later.

Kerry listened grimly to the complaints for 40 minutes and promised to relay the refugees’ concerns to Washington and other capitals. But, he also noted serious complications in meeting the demands and reminded them that the United States is their largest single benefactor. The United States has given nearly $815 million in humanitarian aid to Syrians through the United Nations.

His words, however, did not appear to assuage the six refugees.

‘‘Mr. Secretary, if the situation remains unchanged until the end of Ramadan this camp will become empty,’’ said a woman from Daara, who asked not to be named. ‘‘We will return to Syria and we will fight with knives.’’

In Washington, the chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate committee that the Obama administration is deliberating whether to use military force in Syria.

Army General Martin Dempsey, appearing at his confirmation hearing for another term, said he has provided President Obama with options for the use of force.

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