UN relief officials express concern over Syrians trapped by fighting in northern Aleppo

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UNITED NATIONS, June 1 (APP): Two United Nations humanitarian officials expressed deep concerned over the fate of an estimated 8,000 Syrians trapped by fighting around the towns of Mare’a and Sheikh Issa in northern Aleppo Governorate following advances in the past three days by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) into areas controlled by non-State armed groups.

An unknown number of people are also unable to flee due to fighting and the closure of the main road leading north towards the town of Azaz in northwestern Syria, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement Wednesday.

Fighting is also reported to be continuing near the towns of Kaljibrin and Kafr Kalbin, where some 6,000 people are living. Of the estimated 1,650 individuals recently displaced to informal settlements in the Yazibag area, northeast of Azaz, most have come from areas where fighting has been reported.

“We call on all parties to the conflict to ensure the unhindered movement and protection of civilians trying to reach safety, as well as their access to life-saving assistance
at their current locations or en route to other destinations,” said Yacoub El Hillo, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria.

“We further remind all parties to the conflict, and those with influence over them, of their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law to protect civilians and persons no longer participating in the hostilities from attack,” said Kevin Kennedy, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis.

The officials said there have been allegations of extra-judicial executions and unlawful arrests by ISIL.

With shifting frontlines and ongoing conflict, some 163,000 internally displaced persons already reside within the Azaz corridor. The majority were displaced due to fighting that started in early 2016, the officials noted.