New York: Amid the intensification of the military offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Iraq’s Mosul city and the resulting displacement of civilians, the United Nations human rights wing said on Friday that it has received reports that Iraqi civilians are also fleeing into Syria, which itself is reeling under a five-year long conflict that has displaced millions of Syrians and left hundreds of thousands trapped in besieged cities.
“We have received reports that Iraqi civilians from rural areas around Mosul city have been arriving in Syrian governorates of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zour and al-Hassakeh,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told journalists at the UN Office at Geneva earlier on Friday.
“They reportedly left, after the Iraqi Security Forces and allied armed groups captured the areas, fearing they would be seen as affiliated to ISIL,” she added.
OHCHR further said it also received reports that several hundred Iraqi civilians are in a “dire humanitarian situation” in Rajm al-Sleibi in the Syrian governorate of al-Hassakeh (on the border with Iraq), which is under the control of People’s Protection Units (or YPG), an armed group in northern-eastern Syria.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate and according to reports, civilians – including women and children – continue to become casualties in air and ground-based strikes as well as lose their lives in want of medical treatment, said the UN human rights arm.
Image Courtesy: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett
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