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UN refugee agency chief urges Syria's neighbors to keep borders open amid threat of escalation

The head of the United Nations refugee agency is warning that Syria could be on the "verge of the abyss" as aid workers brace for a likely increase in the nearly 2 million refugees who have already fled the country's civil war.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in Baghdad, Antonio Guterres called on Syria's neighbors to keep their borders open to accommodate additional Syrians seeking to escape the war.

Gutteres' visit to Iraq highlighted how even that violence-ravaged country has emerged as a haven for Syrian refugees.

He says 44,000 refugees have flooded into Iraq's northern Kurdish region just since August 15. Aid workers have described that influx as one of the biggest waves of refugees since the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad began.