Although Syria has closed its borders to Iraqi refugees, it remains host to the largest Iraqi population outside of Iraq itself. The Syrian government now finds itself in a difficult position: seeking to provide services for over a million people while trying to make it clear that it does not intend to become a permanent home for most of the refugees. Thus, we end up with the following stories:
The UNHCR is reporting that, in order to provide medical service to the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees, the Syrian government has opened two clinics for refugees in Damascus. Meanwhile, Syria continues to insist it will do what it can to ensure that Iraqi refugees can eventually go home, while continuing to condemn the war itself.
The ability of the Syrian government to balance the pressures it faces will have a major impact on the lives of literally millions.