Syria: 5,000 civilians trapped by fighting in Al Bab town

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In Madaya, Rural Damascus, children and their families wait for permissions to leave the besieged Syrian town. Photo: UNICEF/Omar Sanadiki

The UN has expressed "deep concern" over the fate of an estimated 5,000 civilians trapped by fighting in and around the town of Al Bab in northern Syria.

On Tuesday, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria Ali Al-Za'tari urged all parties to the conflict to immediately ensure a safe passage for people trying to reach safety.

Al Bab and the area to its east remain under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while non-state armed groups are advancing from the west and north.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Around 300 civilians have been killed in an offensive to retake Al Bab town in northern Syria from ISIL militants since December 2016, according to a report by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

The majority died from airstrikes, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and active ground hostilities in the vicinity.

Another 100 civilians have been killed in and around Al Bab town since 1 February.

As the military operation advances, the parties to the conflict may be preparing for urban battles inside the town, OHCHR warns.

This would place civilians in the area at heightened risk of death and injury, as well as vulnerable to being used as human shields, it adds.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 46”

 

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