Civilians flee approaching Syria battle
PARIS: About 10 000 civilians have fled to a camp just north of Islamic State’s bastion of Raqqa with hundreds more arriving each day as the battle for the city nears, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said yesterday.
Residents are escaping Raqqa under cover of night as US-backed forces close in, taking their chances against minefields and hostile fighters rather than risking death in a major battle expected to begin soon.
“It is not a massive exodus, but about 800 people a day are arriving in Ain Issa every day,” Natalie Roberts, an emergency doctor from MSF France who had just returned from the region, told reporters.
The camp in Ain Issa village is run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which is made up predominantly of Kurdish fighters, who have arrived to within 3km of Raqqa and plan to press on with the assault on IS.
The camp has expanded to beyond its 6 000-person capacity, Roberts said.
Conditions had deteriorated in the heat. The UN and other aid groups had yet to establish themselves in the zone, she said. Reuters