UN: Turkish forces in Syria have displaced 160,000 civilians

Displaced Syrians sit in the back of a pick up truck as Arab and Kurdish civilians flee amid Turkey’s military assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, on October 11, 2019. (File photo: AFP)

The Turkish military offensive in Syria has displaced at least 160,000 civilians, the UN secretary general said on Monday in a statement urging an “immediate de-escalation.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is gravely concerned over the military developments in northeast Syria,” the statement said.

It said Guterres was urging “all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means,” adding that “civilians not taking part in hostilities must be protected at all times.”

Guterres also expressed “serious concern” that the Turkish onslaught could lead to the “unintended release of individuals” associated with ISIS.

Some of the Kurdish forces guarding ISIS prisoners or their families have been pulled away to fight the Turks, raising fears that many ISIS militants might be able to escape.

Guterres also demanded “sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to civilians in need” to allow the United Nations and its humanitarian partners to carry out aid work.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday that the Turkish military offensive in Syria has displaced more than 250,000 civilians.

The UNICEF said that nearly 70,000 children have been displaced since hostilities in northeast Syria escalated nearly a week ago.

It renewed its calls on all parties to the conflict and those who have influence over them to protect children at all times, the organization tweeted on Monday.

Aid agency Mercy Corps. said it is suspending operations in northeast Syria and is evacuating its international staff.

After President Donald Trump said over the weekend that he was withdrawing the US troops who had effectively prevented a Turkish incursion, Syrian government forces on Monday were nearing the border with Turkey for the first time in years after striking a deal with the embattled Kurds.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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