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Nations donate over $1.5 billion in aid for war-torn Syria: UN

Donations meant to ease suffering in war-stricken Syria.

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Syrian people crowd outside a bakery in the Salaheddin district of the northern city of Aleppo on October 25, 2012. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

International donors pledged more than $1.5 billion in aid for Syrians affected by the ongoing violence there, the United Nations said Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Four million Syrians are in desperate need of food and shelter, according to the agency, which has set aside $500 million for in-country humanitarian efforts. The remaining one billion will go to assisting the 700,000 Syrian refugees in nearby countries.

The UN estimates that over 60,000 Syrians have been killed in months of brutal fighting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an armed uprising against his rule. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the news but said Syrians still "face unrelenting horrors" on a daily basis, reported Reuters

"I appeal to all sides and particularly the Syrian government to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence," Reuters cited him as saying. 

As Ban was delivering his remarks, BBC News said Syrian state media accused rebels of orchestrating a series of ghastly killings outside Aleppo. Dozens of bodies were dredged out of a river on Tuesday. The rebels, for their part, have blamed Assad for the violence. 

Meanwhile, Syria's top opposition leader indicated his willingness to talk with representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the first time on Wednesday.

Sheik Ahmad Moaz al-Khatib, the leader of the Syrian opposition coalition, made the offer in conjunction with two demands, The New York Times reported. Al-Khatib asked for the release of 160,000 prisoners and the renewal of expired passports held by Syrians abroad.

"I announce that I am willing to sit down with representatives of the Syrian regime in Cairo or Tunisia or Istanbul," he said in the offer, which was published in Arabic on his Facebook page.

International efforts to help end the over year-long crisis in Syria have not been successful. 

More on GlobalPost: Syrian crisis: UN's Brahimi warns of 'unprecedented levels of horror'

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130130/nations-donate-over-15-billion-aid-war-torn-syria-u-0