Monday, 16 October, 2017

United Nations expresses concern about safety of Raqqa civilians

Indonesian family who escaped from the Islamic State group in Raqqa gather inside their tent at a refugee camp in Ain Issa Syria. Indonesia’s deputy foreign minister says the Jakarta family who joined Syrian army closes in on IS-held town in Raqqa
Melissa Porter | 12 August, 2017, 01:35

U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon said there remains still tough fighting ahead and that although the linkup of the Syrian opposition fighters' east and west axis on the southern edge of Raqqa was significant, this does not in fact cut the city in two.

The SDF-linked Syriac Military Council (MFS) said on Tuesday that the rescued civilians were from Syriac and Armenian origins, adding that they are originally from Raqqa city in northeastern Syria. Bali also confirmed that SDF fighters pushing from opposite sides of the city have met up. "We had to hide our faces to avoid insults", reported the news agency.

It noted that the number "of foreign terrorist fighters" traveling to Iraq and Syria "has continued to fall".

Speaking after Friday prayers in Ankara, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said "radical groups have taken over control" in Syria's Idlib province. HTS also seized the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey's Hatay province. "The security conditions in the area are so complex that the handling process can not be done easily", he said. The Syrian government has said the U.S. forces were committing "crimes" by killing civilians on a daily basis.

International Organization for Migration spokeswoman Olivia Headon said the 602,759 returns between January and July was on track to surpass the figure of 685,000 returns for all of 2016.

Hussein said her training had included ideology sessions.

"Our communication with these parties is more directed to the humanitarian situation", Iqbal said, noting the family includes teenagers and three young children. Eighty-four percent were people internally displaced, the rest fleeing overseas.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by an worldwide coalition battling IS, entered Raqqa city two months ago.

According to an Associated Press report earlier this week, the family left Jakarta for Raqqa two years ago, intending to live in what they regarded as the capital of ISIS. Since then, SDF fighters have captured half the city under the cover of Russian airstrikes.

A US -trained local police force of about 1,000 members is patrolling the liberated areas. Last week, SDF detachments fighting to take back control of the city from IS were just 300 feet apart, Pentagon officials said.