Civil­ians flee ap­proach­ing Syria bat­tle

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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

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