Baird heads to Middle East to tour refugee camp
Minister of Foreign affairs John Baird is shown in a file photo. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:52PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is heading to the Middle East on Friday to talk to leaders in a visit that will likely focus on the continuing unrest in Syria.
He'll meet Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and opposition leader Fouad Siniora in Beirut.
Then it's on to Jordan, where he meets his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.
Baird travels to the region at a time of fierce fighting in Syria between government troops and rebels in Aleppo, Syria's largest city and financial hub.
Aleppo has been under heavy fire from tanks, helicopter gunships and warplanes for two weeks now as President Bashar Assad's regime tries to break the rebel grip on one of its strongholds.
The United Nations estimates more than 78,000 people have fled to refugee camps in neighbouring Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan to escape the bloodshed.
Baird says the refugee problem is making things increasingly difficult for the region.
Activists say upwards of 21,000 people have been killed since a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters began in March 2011.