100 000 trapped along Syria, Turkey border

2016-05-27 20:20


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Beirut - At least 100 000 people were trapped on Friday along Syria's border with Turkey after the Islamic State group (ISIS) swept through rebel territory in Aleppo province, rights groups and activists said.

The shock ISIS advance on two rebel-held towns came as the jihadist group is facing an offensive further east in its own heartland of Raqa province.

ISIS fighters cut a key road between the rebel towns of Azaz, close to the Turkish border, and nearby Marea, journalist Maamoun Khateeb told AFP from Azaz.

"This is a disaster," Khateeb said, adding that about 15 000 people were now besieged in Marea.

The jihadist onslaught threatens tens of thousands of internally displaced Syrians living in informal camps near the border, closed by Turkey for several months.

"We are terribly concerned... about the estimated 100 000 people trapped between the Turkish border and active front lines," said Pablo Marco, regional operations manager for Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

MSF said it was evacuating patients and staff from a hospital it supports in Salamah, a nearby town, just 3km from the front line.

"There is nowhere for people to flee to as the fighting gets closer," Marco said.

Gerry Simpson from Human Rights Watch said the number of Syrians trapped along the closed border could be as high as 165 000.

Marea and Azaz both fell to opposition forces in 2012 and have been vital stops along a rebel supply route from Turkey.

ISIS has tried to advance on both towns for months.

In a statement on Friday, the jihadist group said it launched a "surprise attack" and seized a series of villages near Azaz.

Read more on:    isis  |  turkey  |  syria

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