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Kuwait pledged $500 million and the United States promised $380 million to alleviate the suffering of Syrians affected by the country's civil war at the start of an international fundraising conference in the Gulf nation Wednesday that international aid officials hope will generate billions of dollars needed this year.The United Nations is appealing for $6.5 billion this year to help Syrians affected the war, its largest-ever funding request for a single crisis. Officials don't expect to raise the entire amount in Kuwait but do hope the event focuses greater international attention on the conflict, now in its third year."The fighting has set Syria back by years, even decades," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the start of the event at the lavish Bayan Palace in the Kuwaiti capital.Ban said it was vital that the "burden is shared" in helping meet Syria's growing humanitarian needs.Kuwait's emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, opened the conference by pledging $500 million, significantly topping the OPEC member nation's pledge of $300 million last year.He urged the U.N. Security Council to exert greater effort in bringing an end to the crisis."I call on Security Council and member states to put aside their differences to reach a solution," he said. "'The Security Council should assume its historical responsibility."