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UN: Conditions in Damascus are desperate

Published : Apr 18, 2016, 6:18 am IST
Updated : Apr 18, 2016, 6:18 am IST

22 civilians dead in Aleppo attacks

22 civilians dead in Aleppo attacks

A UN agency said that around 10,000 civilians are trapped in “desperate” humanitarian conditions in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, where fighting has raged for days between ISIS militants and other extremists.

The UN Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, said that residents of the Yarmouk camp have gone without food or water for more than a week. UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said “civilians in Yarmouk are facing starvation and dehydration alongside the heightened risks of serious injury and death from the armed conflict.”

The camp, a built-up neighbourhood once home to an estimated 150,000 people, has been ravaged by fighting between the ISIS group and Al Qaida’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front, while government forces regularly shell it from outside.

Meanwhile, at least 22 civilians were killed in Syria’s second city Aleppo, a monitor said on Sunday, in one of the highest single tolls since a fragile truce came into force.

Nearly all warring parties in Syria — the regime, rebels, jihadists, and Kurds — have carved out zones of control in the war-torn northern province.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, six civilians were killed and eight wounded in regimeairstrikes on rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo city on Saturday.

Opposition groups fired rockets into the government-controlled western districts, leaving 16 civilians dead, including 10 children and two women the Observatory added.

“There’s a clear escalation. This was the bloodiest incident in Aleppo and its province” since a truce deal between the government and non-jihadist rebels came into effect on February 27, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

“This escalation directly threatens the truce.”

Brokered by Russia and the United States, the cessation of hostilities deal does not include the fight against the ISIS group or the Nusra Front.

The truce had largely held across parts of Syria since late February, despite frequent accusations that both sides were committing breaches. But violence around Aleppo has sparked concerns that the ceasefire may not last, partly because rebels are involved in the battles there too. ISIS jihadists have seized fresh territory from rebel groups in recent days.

Location: Lebanon, Beirut