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More than a quarter of a million people have fled a Russian-backed government onslaught on southern Syria, the United Nations said Monday, in the latest civilian exodus in the seven-year war.

For nearly two weeks, regime forces and their Russian allies have battered rebel-held parts of southern Syria with air strikes, rocket fire, and barrel bombs.

Read Also: Russian strikes in southern Syria killed at least 25 civilians

The strategic area was ostensibly protected by a ceasefire agreed by the US, Jordan, and Russia just under a year ago, but President Bashar al-Assad is dead-set on retaking it.

The violence has pushed waves of terrified civilians out of their homes at a shocking rate, the UN s refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

“We were expecting the number of displaced in southern Syria to reach 200,000, but it has already exceeded 270,000 people in record time,” said UNHCR spokesman in Amman Mohammad Hawari.

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