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Activists estimate more than 20,000 people have been killed in the uprising Assad’s regime, which began in March 2011 with peaceful protests but rapidly evolved into a civil war.

The U.N. refugee agency reported a growing number of Syrians fleeing to Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley, near the Syrian border.

Local authorities report that about 2,200 people arrived there over the past week, almost double the weekly average, agency spokesman Adrian Edwards said. He told reporters Friday in Geneva that another 400 Syrians are reaching northern Lebanon each week.

Edwards said Turkey has opened two more refugee camps for Syrians in the past week and is now hosting 80,410 people in 11 camps and schools in its border provinces.

In France, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that France would use military force if President Bashar Assad ever uses his chemical weapons. “Our response would be immediate and sharp as lightning,” Fabius said Friday on Europe-1 radio.

He suggested that France would not wait for U.N. permission for such a response. “Bacteriological and chemical weapons are of a different nature from ordinary arms,” he said. “We cannot tolerate that these weapons, whose fallout could spread, would be used.”

Syria said in late July that it could use chemical or biological weapons if it were attacked from outside.

Syria is believed to have nerve agents as well as mustard gas, Scud missiles capable of delivering these lethal chemicals and a variety of advanced conventional arms, including anti-tank rockets and late-model portable anti-aircraft missiles.

Associated Press writer Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.